Mayor Ronnie Williams Jr. outlined the City’s plans for spending the first installment of the American Rescue Plan 2021 during a town hall meeting May 4 at the Natchitoches Events Center. The City should get a total of $6,450,000 with the first allocation of $3,228,000 scheduled to be disbursed May 11.
The remainder should be disbursed in a year. During a PowerPoint presentation, the Mayor listed the tentative spending for the first disbursement in the following ways:
•$1 million will be spent for engineering for the addition of a fourth water treatment plant. The City will also seek funding for rehabilitation of the current water treatment plant #3. It is estimated that it will cost $17.3 million to build a new #4 and rehabilitate #3. In its present state, the City would not be able to handle large industrial growth requiring water. Today, the capacity is up to 8 million gallons per day with use at 5.5 to 6 million gallons per day. Pilgrim’s Pride uses 600,000-700,000 gallons daily. With the new plant, capacity would increase to 12 million gallons per day.
•$350,000 will be used to redesign City Pool with maintenance on the building. It could be used for year-round activities with a better pool building.
•$300,000 will be used to seek matching grants.
•$300,000 will go to improvements at the MLK Fire Station or possibly a new station at the “Y” on South Drive near NSU. Fire Chief John Wynn said the footprint of the City is expanding with the annexations of Fox Run, Chinquapin and Water Well Road. The MLK station is small and the trucks are a tight fight.
•$250,000 will be used for a new location of the public works department. Williams was reluctant to reveal a potential location.
•$200,000 will be used for a cost-share with the auto mall on La. 504 at University Parkway in which the City will lay sewer lines.
•$185,000 for law enforcement needs to upgrade cameras and buy license plate readers.
•$185,000 will be for a lift station and water and sewer lines on La. 494 past Freedom Life Church. CommCare will build abstate-of-the-art nursing home with private rooms and hire 20 employees.
•$104,000 will be for business retention and façade grants on Texas and Washington streets. The grants will be up to $8,000 to put entrepreneurs into vacant buildings and improve that area. There will be a subsidy element to help create jobs. The second phase will be used on Keyser Avenue and South Drive.
•$100,000 will be used for a master plan since the last one was done in 2019.
•$100,000 will be for housing façade grants for low income residents. It will improve the blighted area along the Texas Street corridor and provide potential housing for single families.
•$50,000 will be for an economic development plan by consultants Garner Economics LLC.
•$5,000-$10,000 will be used to develop uses for the Ben D. Johnson ball park to possibly provide more parking, MMX and skate parks. Williams said he sought the input of department heads to develop the proposed spending schedule.