Petitjean, ‘waterpark will happen’
By J. Anfenson-Comeau
LSN STAFF WRITER
A proposed waterpark in Rayne is “definitely going to happen,” Rayne Mayor Jim Petitjean told Eunice Kiwanians, adding an expected completion date of spring 2011.
“The word around is, ‘oh, that project’s dead’, but let me tell you something about that particular project,” Petitjean said. “This is a $250 million project; you have to do a lot of due diligence before the developer can get a lot of investors into the project.”
“Part of my job is to encourage economic development in Rayne,” Petitjean added.
Petitjean said that the 170-acre property east of Rayne on La. 98 being considered for the project is currently under consideration as a possible Interstate 10 interchange, which would greatly benefit any development in that area.
“We have been hard at work trying to get the interchange started,” Petitjean said.
Former State Rep. Chris John secured $1 million dollars for an environmental impact study which found that an interchange would have no negative environmental impact.
Petitjean said that the state Department of Transportation and Development is currently working on the interchange design.
“It’s a process, it just doesn’t happen that quickly,” Petitjean said.
Petitjean said he is hoping money for the interchange will come from the Congressional Highway Reauthorization Bill. “We think we have a really good chance, because Congressman (Charles) Boustany is really helping us out. He’s signed off on our application; so has Senator (David) Vitter and Senator (Mary) Landrieu. So we feel really confident in regards to the interchange.”
Petitjean said that the current plan is not dependent upon an interchange, but that it would greatly enhance the opportunities for a waterpark.
Previous to his election as mayor, Petitjean worked for 12 years as Rayne’s Parks and Recreation Director.
The proposed waterpark would be similar to the Blue Bayou waterpark near Baton Rouge, with an indoor entertainment complex, outdoor activities, and an amphitheater for musical venues.
In addition, a 250-bedroom hotel, a bowling alley and a shopping strip are included in the plans.
The development, estimated to cost $250 million, would be the largest project of its kind in Acadiana, Petitjean said.
Petitjean said that Rayne is putting up $12 million towards the development, which Petitjean said will be recovered from additional sales tax revenue.
Petitjean said that he expects the waterpark to create 1,600 local jobs.
The state has committed to assisting in infrastructure upgrades. The rest of the project is being financed by the developer.
Tom Nolan of Baton Rouge previously said that financing for Roux Acadiana will be a combination of additional equity and pre-sale of commercial real estate.
Water Park Experts of San Antonio, Texas, would build and own the water amusement portion of Roux Acadiana.