Naquin touts parish accomplishments
St. Mary Parish President Paul Naquin said he is pleased with the progress parish government has made over the past year.
Projects completed or in the works are being funded by a $19.5 million community development block grant related to Hurricanes Gustav and Ike and $6.8 million in bonds from the 1-cent sales tax dedicated to capital improvements to public buildings.
The CDBG projects include:
—Reconstruction of Martin Luther King Street in Morgan City, $551,538, completed this year.
—Reconstruction of Jolivette and Lebeau streets in Baldwin, $411,400; going out for bids in early 2013.
—Drainage improvements that include culvert upgrades and addition of pumps in the areas of south Willow Street and Pecan Acres in Franklin, $1.2 million; going out for bids in mid-2013.
—Replacement and flood proofing of the Atchafalaya River wharf in Berwick, $414,600; going out for bids in early 2013.
—Flood protection projects that include floodgate and levee improvements on Yellow Bayou and Hanson Canal, $6.2 million, permits expected to be in hand and the project ready for bids during the first quarter of 2013; Plantation pump station replacement and improvements in Bayou Vista, $782,500, currently under construction; Yokely levee improvements, $4.5 million, anticipated to be designed and bid in late 2013; and parishwide sewer lift station electrical retrofits and upgrades, $511,000, to bid out in early 2013.
—Patterson water plant upgrades, $366,500, to be bid out in 2013.
—Just over $2 million toward levee improvement projects in Morgan City, to begin in 2013.
—Some $2 million for owner-occupied low and moderate income housing rehab with an average of $15,000 to $40,000 per household. The first phase of the project is set to begin in early 2013 on about 45-50 units.
Capital improvement projects include:
—Blevins building in Franklin: exterior water-proofing and window re-painting ($127,218) and modification and improvements to provide parish offices ($873,750). Work on this project began this year and will be continued in 2013.
—Courthouse: Extensive exterior work, $891,225; redesign of entry canopy, $215,525; window replacement, $563,394; elevator and elevator lobby upgrades, $681,525: parish office general improvements on the fifth floor, $116,500; general improvements on the third, fourth and sixth floors, $844,625; replacement and upgrades of HVAC air boxes above ceilings on the third, fourth and sixth floors, $699,000; and boiler re-placement, $145,625. These projects are in the design phase and are anticipated to begin in 2013. Naquin said the exterior work will include redesign of the parking lot with enhanced landscaping. The long-term goal is to renovate the second floor of the Blevins building to create office space for non-parish agencies currently on the third floor of the courthouse. That would allow the District Attorney’s office to move from the fifth floor to the third and parish offices on the third floor to move to the fifth, he said.
—Whitney building at 201 Everett St. in Morgan City: re-roofing and waterproofing, $191,980, completed this year.
—MC Senior Center at 4014 Chennault St.: replacement of metal roof and ceilings, $188,148, completed this year.
—Kemper Williams Park: gatehouse improvements, $110,675, completed this year.
—Animal Control: facility replacement, $495,125, under design.
—Old Tiger Den building in Franklin renovations for office space, $116,500, under design.
Earlier in the year Naquin said he and Chief Administrative Officer Henry “Bo” LaGrange spent time in Baton Rouge to monitor the state legislative session and attended committee meetings on review and implementation of the Coastal Master Plan.
“We think it was a major accomplishment to have the permanent flood control structure in Bayou Chene included in the plan,” Naquin said. Inclusion of the $75 million project paves the way for possible funding, he added.
The structure proposed by the St. Mary Levee District would be designed to prevent backwater flooding from the Atchafalaya River. The Atchafalaya backs up into Bayou Chene once it begins to swell, causing a domino effect in which water from the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, Bayou Boeuf and Lake Palourde and other waterways all begin to back up and threaten various communities.
Naquin said the parish has also been working with the Levee District on various other projects. Work on the Franklin Canal flood control structure project has just started and is expected to be complete in June before the height of the hurricane season. The $3.2 million contract was awarded to low bidder Circle Inc. of Belle Chase, which constructs levees throughout Louisiana and Mississippi.
Also started this year were repairs at the Law Enforcement Center in Centerville.
The $1 million project was funded with surplus from refinancing the $3.7 million in jail construction bond. The bond will now be paid off five years early and provided the surplus for the improvements. Repayment of the new debt is $425,000 per year as compared to the former repayment rate of $525,000.
The project includes up-grades to the fresh air intake system which is complete, installation of a new emergency generator which is under design and upgrades to the internal security system which are under contract.
Other projects include those being funded by the Coastal Impact Assistance Program. CIAP provides federal funds to Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas producing states to mitigate the impacts of the industry.
The projects totaling al-most $7 million include the Point Chevreuil shoreline protection project, $1.9 million covering 4,250 feet of coast line around the point at the southernmost tip of East Cote Blanche Bay, with permits expected to be issued in the first half of 2013; and the Deer Island Pass realignment, $2.7 million, which includes dredging a new navigation channel at the mouth of Deer Island Bayou to protect marsh land and reduce siltation at Atchafalaya Bay, is design phase.
Completed CIAP projects include the Burns Point shoreline project, $1.01 million for protection of the 8½-acre recreational vehicle park and campground at Bayou Sale Bay; the $1.6 million Thorguson-Berwick South Road project to widen and overlay the road used as a main thoroughfare by the oil and gas industry.
CIAP monies are also partially funding the construction of a $1.68 million new industrial road in Morgan City between Second Street and Federal Avenue inside the seawall in an effort to divert industrial and commercial traffic away for residential neighborhoods. Funding for the project includes $335,000 in state and $525,000 in parish CIAP funds, and $820,000 in state capital outlay funds. Naquin said permits are in hand and right-of-way acquisitions are in progress. It will be ready to go out for bids in early 2013.
In other areas, the parish has been allocated hazard mitigation grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency as a result of Hurricanes Gustav and Ike in 2008. The grants require a 25 percent match by the local recipient.
Those projects include:
—$1 million for wind retrofit projects of public buildings to protect from future damage. The grant will fund projects at the school board Central Office Complex in Centerville, Franklin and Morgan City fire departments, the Blevins building in Franklin and the Office of Emergency Preparedness’ hangar and warehouse at Harry P. Williams Memorial Airport. It will be ready for bids in 2013.
—$250,000 for construction of “safe rooms” for staff at drainage pump stations in Amelia and Morgan City; under design.
—$2.5 million for upgrade of pump stations in the Berwick, Amelia and Morgan City areas.
—$1.5 million for elevation of the North Bend, Gordy, Ellerslie and Todd pump stations all located off La. 317 south of Centerville; pending FEMA approval.
Approved is $640,000 for elevation of critical equipment at the Courthouse in Franklin. The project, currently under design, includes relocating communication equipment to the first floor and flood proofing the main mechanical room, both located in the basement. Flood proofing will include building a 3- to 4-foot high floodwall on the rear of the Courthouse extending from the tunnel entries.
The parish has replaced one of the courthouse’s two chillers with one that’s more energy efficient with a $400,000 grant from the Department of Natural Resources.
Boat landing improvement projects include:
—A $765,000 CDBG for fisheries infrastructure at Jesse Fontenot Memorial Boat Launch at the end of River Road in Berwick is complete and consists of installation of a large-vessel mooring facility with electrical hookups and sewerage disposal.
—Pending Community Development Block Grants include construction a floating dock at Joe C. Russo Memorial Boat Launch on the basin levee off of La. 70 north of Morgan City and for wharf improvements at the R.J. Marcel Memorial Boat Landing in Amelia. The projects are part of the Coastal Communities Fishery Recovery Program, which provided $400,000 for the projects that will be ready for bids in the first quarter of the new year.
Sewer installation projects at Bakertown, Websterville, St. Peter Street and Adeline are in the midst of right-of-way acquisitions.
At the beginning of the year the parish council appointed a planning and zoning committee to review the parish’s building permit process to review fees and permit turn-around times in an effort to be more competitive with surrounding parishes. Current permit fees were established about three years ago to fund enforcement of state mandated building codes, LaGrange said.
The council retained Craigo Code Consultants LLC of Patterson to help streamline the permit application process. The company established an online permit application service that can be accessed at www.mypermitnow.org.
LaGrange added that the fee structure will be examined further after a one- to two-year history of planning office costs verses permit revenue has been accumulated.
In the final months of 2012, Naquin and parish Economic Development Director Franklin Fink made two trips to China to meet with investors looking for a site to build a deepwater port.
Naquin said the parish is anticipating a visit by the China delegation in January when it will determine if it will conduct a feasibility study on location of the port some 20 miles south of the mouth of the Atchafalaya River.
“We had a very successful 2012,” Naquin said. “We accomplished a lot and that was not just in the parish but in the five municipalities as well. We all worked together and got a lot accomplished.” He added, “The Levee District did an outstanding job this year, also.”