Parish president, mayors offer updates on progress
MORGAN CITY, La. — Five St. Mary Parish mayors and the parish president gave updates on their respective cities and towns, and projects and plans Wednesday at the St. Mary Parish Chamber of Commerce Business luncheon.
Baldwin Mayor Wayne Breaux, Berwick Mayor Louis Ratcliff, Franklin Mayor Raymond Harris, Morgan City Mayor Frank “Boo” Grizzaffi, Patterson Mayor Rodney Grogan and St. Mary Parish President Paul Naquin attended.
Breaux said Baldwin is getting ready to open a new fire station, which is funded by a $1 million state capital outlay grant. The station should be completed within 30 days and will be able to house six fire truck or emergency vehicles, Breaux said. The town is also planning to build a one-truck fire substation west of the railroad tracks, he said.
Baldwin has one small area that is susceptible to flooding, though the town is on high ground compared to the rest of the parish, he said. The town recently received $1 million to build a levee, he said.
Ratcliff touted Berwick’s publicly developed Renwick subdivision, which began construction in 1998, and is now in phase five, which began construction about six months ago, Ratcliff said.
Phase five is the final stage of the project which includes installing below-ground electrical lines, he said. The final phase will bring an additional 33 lots to the market, while 123 lots have been built so far during the entire project, he said. The town anticipates starting sale of the 33 lots by May 30, Ratcliff said.
Harris announced that Walgreens is coming to the city of Franklin as construction began Tuesday, he said.
Floodgates are being built on the Franklin Canal and should be finished by the end of June, which is around a $4 million project, Harris said.
Franklin is also changing its pumps and panels at all 22 lift stations for its sewer system, Harris said. The city is about one-third of the way through the project and the goal is to finish by the end of the year, Harris said.
The biggest thing people are seeing in Morgan City, right now, is the roads, Grizzaffi said. “All the major thoroughfares are pretty much complete,” Grizzaffi said.
Morgan City also did major upgrades on the city’s main lift station for the sewer system, he said. The upgrades cost about $2 million, he said.
The city has also made improvements to its graveyard by working on drainage and repairing cemetery roads. Drainage work is being done along Youngs Road as well, Grizzaffi said.
“One of the biggest things coming to our city over the next 18 months is a new software program, just over $400,000 that’ll get us into the current times,” Grizzaffi said. He said it would allow a lot of paperwork to be done online.
Morgan City is working with the Louisiana Energy and Power Authority to bring a new power plant — a combination gas and diesel plant — to allow Morgan City to keep its utility rates manageable, Grizzaffi said.
The city had three cabins built at Lake End Parkway, which are undergoing final fire marshal approval. Reservations will be taken starting May 1, he said.
Patterson is building a $9.4 million water plant that Grogan has been working toward since he became mayor, he said. The city received a $3.7 million 40-year loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help pay for the construction of the water plant and a $700,000 grant, Grogan said.
The council had already approved issuing about $5 million in bonds, but the cost of the plant increased. The city’s current water plant is 72 years old.
Patterson is planning to begin work on an infrastructure project south of the railroad tracks in Patterson beginning July 1, Grogan said.
Grogan has talked to developers and land owners who say they need infrastructure to build on about 120 acres of undeveloped land south of the railroad tracks, he said.
Naquin spoke about FEMA’s recent announcement that a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ study shows the parish’s levees need to be raised to be certified. Naquin asked the corps to give the parish time to get data to show the corps’ elevations were wrong for 100-year storm surge protections, he said. The corps agreed to give the parish 120 days to do that, Naquin said.
If the levees are not certified, flood insurance rates could skyrocket in the parish, he said.
Naquin also mentioned the I-49 South Coalition being organized by state Sen. Bret Allain, R-Franklin, to complete I-49 South from Lafayette to New Orleans.
Naquin is working to find out how many deaths have occurred along U.S. 90 from Berwick through Patterson, he said, which would become I-49 when the project is finished. The next coalition meeting will be in St. Mary Parish, Naquin added.