Parish trying to keep West Gate at Wax Lake open
Parish administrators are attempting to convince the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to continue to fund operation of the west floodgate of the Wax Lake Outlet at Bayou Teche.
Wednesday, members of the St. Mary Parish Council heard from Centerville resident and business owner Randy Hanagriff who asked for clarification on the Corps’ announcement last month that it would discontinue manning the gate on March 4 due to budget cuts.
Prior to that date, the gates were manned 12 hours a day so they could be opened when needed to boat traffic.
Hanagriff said since the announcement he heard that a group of commercial fisherman had taken their concerns about the closing to U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany.
Hanagriff said he has a 46-foot trawler and asked if it would be possible to at least have an operator on call to come open the gates when needed, similar to how the swing bridges are operated by the parish.
Fisherman’s boats can be trailered, he said, but added that if he wants to access the Atchafalaya River he would have to access it via the Intracoastal Waterway to Morgan City and head back west to the river.
Parish President Paul Naquin said he has discussed the situation with the Corps and was told they will attempt to man the gates for at least eight hours a day.
“Right now I don’t know where they’re at,” he said. “I’ll check on it.” He added that he also discussed the gates with Boustany and other legislative delegates on his recent trip to Washington, D.C.
“Right now they are on a call out system,” for the fishermen, he said. “They open it in the morning at 6 o’clock and when they start coming back in the afternoon they start calling.
“Hopefully, they will work with us and keep it open 12 hours a day,” until the river reaches flood stage, he said.
Last month council members worried that permanent closure of the gate might endanger the Franklin area in event of a flood.
In other business the council:
—Adopted an ordinance on a $5.15 million sales tax refinancing bond dedicated to solid waste. Bond attorney Jason Akers of the Foley and Judell law firm said the refinancing would save the parish $418,000 over the 11 years remaining on the bond. He added that the parish’s bond rating has been upgraded from triple B-minus when the original bond was sold in 2004 to A-minus today. Also adopted was an ordinance granting a specific use permit to Cypremort Point Fire Department in behalf of Edward L. Meyer II of Gulf Coast Broadband LLC.
—Introduced ordinances on a specific use permit for Idlewild Farms, represented by Michael Accardo on property belonging to Joseph P. Duhe Family LLC at 3200 La. 182, near Patterson; and the rezoning of property at 9070 U.S. 90 Frontage Road, Centerville, in behalf of Ronnie’s Airboat Fabrication LLC.
—Ratified Planning and Zoning Board recommendations on subdivision of properties at 226, 230, 236 and 242 Easy St., Franklin, by Community Action Agency; a specific use permit for Idlewild Farms, represented by Michael Accardo on property at 3200 La. 182, Patterson for a bunkhouse and placement of a second mobile home; and the rezoning of property from agricultural to light industrial at 9070 U.S. 90, Frontage Road, Centerville, in behalf of Ronnie’s Airboat Fabrication LLC to match the existing use already operating on the property
—Heard from Lisa Schilling, executive director of South Central Louisiana Human Services Authority that provides addiction services and counseling at the parish owned Fairview Treatment Center and Claire House. The agency with offices in Morgan City serves a seven-parish area and can be reached by calling its Crisis Assist Link Line at 877-500-997
—Heard from Cypress Sawmill Festival Queen Jessica Decuir and Teen Miss Queen Carley Gravois on the upcoming event at Kemper Williams Park on April 5-7.
—Approved financial reallocation requests from the Wards 5 and 8 three-tenths percent sales tax fund by Councilman Steve Bierhorst to the City of Patterson in the amounts of $10,000 for drainage improvements and $8,000 for building repairs, equipment and the summer recreational program; and by Councilman Ken Singleton in the amount of $5,500 for picnic tables at Kemper Williams Park.
—Passed resolutions requesting that the Department of Transportation and Development consider placement of a traffic signal on La. 83 at La. 319 on the road to Cypremort Point; and participation by Bollinger Marine Fabricators in the Enterprise Zone Program on three projects.
—Appointed Wayne J. Cantrell Jr. to Gravity Sub-Drainage District 1 of gravity Drainage District 2.