IT’S PUNCH TIME: Riverbank readies for rededication Nov. 16

Carbo landscaper Paxton Rooks, left, and project superintendent Wendell Bolton hold up the Cane River Waterway Commission plaque over the spot on the stage where it will find its permanent home. Photo courtesy of City of Natchitoches

By Juanice Gray

We’ve all heard the term “punch list” at one time or another, and it always means the time has come to get in gear and get it done. The definition of punch list is a “listing of items requiring immediate attention.” Edd Lee said Wednesday the Downtown Riverbank project was in the punch list stage. Workers are putting the finishing touches on different areas and are starting the clean up process. We’ve all seen those shows where they remodel homes. They tear everything out and have it looking like it will never resemble a home again. They work in a frenzy to beat their deadline and two hours before the family arrives they don’t have a ceiling, walls or furniture. Then – ta da – a rug, lamp and picture on the wall and it looks like a home featured in Better Homes and Gardens.

The stage area is well lit with decorative and LED lighting as shown in this nighttime photo. Photos courtesy City of Natchitoches

That bears quite a resemblance to the riverbank project. For a long time it looked like nothing was happening, then suddenly trees and shrubs popped up, roofs went on and sod was laid.

Following is the punch list for the project to be ready before the Nov. 16 dedication ceremony:

•North end-There is a small area that still needs sod. Assuming the weather cooperates and the sod farm in Arkansas can cut the sod, it should be laid by the time you read this. Everything else is clean up, which should have begun Friday, Nov. 3.

•South end-Stairs are done. The Santa House and restrooms are still under construction. They will not be ready by Nov. 16, but Santa will have a finished house to receive children’s wish lists by festival day. “There will be no interruption for Santa Claus,” Lee said.

•Concrete was scheduled for pouring Thursday, Nov. 2 in the Santa House courtyard and the south end of the promenade, and then the brick pavers will be laid.

•By Christmas Festival day, Dec. 2, the exterior of the restrooms will be complete, however the interior will not. “We’ve never had these restrooms before,” Lee said. “So the festival will continue as it has in the past, with porta-potties.”

•Stage-The lights are installed as well as the basic PA system. Lee said bands prefer to use their own equipment, speakers and soundboards for concerts and the areas for those are ready.

•Plaques-Four of the five plaques are on site and ready for installation with the fifth due “any day” according to Lee. There will be one depicting the high water level of the April 1945 flood, the worst recorded in Natchitoches history, one on the stage for the City of Natchitoches, one for the Cane River Waterway Commission and a second RRWC plaque on the dock. The fifth, a bronze La. Purchase plaque, will be placed on the north stairs.

•Landscaping-Lee said approximately 90 percent of the landscaping should be completed by Friday, Nov. 3.

•Orange and Metal Barriers-Removal of the barriers is dependent upon receiving a Certificate of Occupancy from the State Fire Marshal. Lee said he has no doubt that will happen well before the 16th. The only exception is the restrooms, which will retain barriers.

•Booths-“The infrastructure for the vendor booths will be ready,” Lee said. There will also be dump stations for gray water, electrical hook-ups and running water. “The water lines are being connected today (Wednesday, Nov. 1)” he said. Project leaders increased the electrical capacity to handle all the modern requirements for any equipment booth operators utilize.

•Lighting-Decorative lighting and strategically placed LED lighting for safety is ready. A row of decorative lighting runs the length of the promenade.

Portions that will not be complete by Christmas Festival day.

•Restrooms-Completion is slated for some time after the New Year.

•Third set of stairs (just south of the Church Street bridge) – after the New Year.

•Road Reconstruction-The center in front of the stage area where the brick pavers are, is complete. The north and south ends where it is asphalt will be replaced after the New Year. Bids will be introduced at the Nov. 13 City Council meeting for that phase. In the meantime, the existing asphalt will be cleaned in preparation for the rededication and Christmas Festival.

“Because of this project, the riverbank provides for a lot more access for mobility impaired persons. It will continue to be open to vehicular traffic as well,” Lee said. “We’re in the final stages and at the clean up stage. It’s punch list time.”