The District of Houston hopes it can tap into a federal/provincial grant program tied to assisting local governments with projects to boost their economies as a way of coping with the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s doing so by applying for $909,461 to renovate and expand the lobby of the Claude Parish Memorial Arena and to install an electric dehumidifier.
The infrastructure program has up to $136.5 million to spend and all approved projects must be finished before the end of the year.
Both projects are already within the District’s five-year financial plan but do rely on senior government grants and approval to apply for the money came from council at its Feb. 2 meeting.
The purchase and installation of a dehumidifier would cost $412,100 and a lobby addition $212,700 but a healthy contigency amount of $230,645 has been taken into account as well as design fees and professional service fees.
The arena lobby addition is part of a larger plan to renovate the existing lobby, something that could cost as much as $726,000, but that was not included in the grant application to keep the request lower.
Council would also have “more time to consider which types of renovations are most beneficial, while also increasing the lobby space to facilitate further renovations,” a memo to council outlined.
Additional information contained within the District’s project planning documents also indicates the lobby is nearing the end of its life and needs significant work.
“Many aspects no longer conform to modern building standards,” states the document.
Installing a dehumidifier would help with “ice management throughout the winter and is a necessary element to laying ice earlier (late August/early September),” the document adds.
“As the weather patterns continue to change year to year, this would eliminate staff relying on cooler fall/spring temperatures.”
Part of the grant application included a council statement that it was committed to the work should the money be approved.
Council also committed the District to covering any costs that won’t be covered by the grant and to pay for any cost overruns.