Facade grants could spruce up West Natchitoches
Carolyn Roy | News Editor
Progress in the City continues with new projects in the planning stages and some that are underway. Those plans were revealed at the City Council meeting Monday. The effort to revitalize West Natchitoches is moving forward with the announcement of a plan to offer façade grants for businesses in the Texas and Washington Streets Corridor. While still in the planning stage, a façade grant program was introduced that will be voted on in two weeks. It includes a cooperative endeavor agreement between the City and Natchitoches Development Alliance (NDA) to offer the grants similar to those offered in the Historic District.
Economic Developer Mike Ferdinand said a board of about five people will review applications of business owners seeking the grants. Similar projects in other cities have been successful in revitalizing target areas such as Texas and Washington streets. Funding will come from federal grants with the City seeking the initial $100,000 for start-up.
The NDA will administer the grants since the City cannot give grants to private citizens or businesses. The NDA should announce how to apply for the grants in about two weeks. State Capital Outlay has also appropriated $585,000 for a round-about traffic improvement. Construction funding will be available in two years.
Director of Community Development Randy Lacaze said the roundabout will be at Texas and Dixie and will positively affect traffic flow in all directions. There was once a red light at that intersection but it was removed by La. DOTD. The new feature will enhance traffic flow, provide safety and be a key feature in redevelopment. Councilperson-at-Large Betty Sawyer-Smith believes the projects will have a positive effect and influence residents to get involved with improving the community.
A new sign is in shipment for the MLK Triangle on Texas Street.
Also introduced by ordinance is an agreement with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Acadiana to open a club. The City will contribute $20,000 annually for three years; and an additional $20,000 in the first year through a sponsorship from the City’s insurance provider. The club will be in the Ben Johnson Auditorium, will provide after-school and summer programs, management oversight and office support.
Mayor Ronnie Williams Jr. said the project began under the previous administration. In other business, Williams said the City and Cane River National Heritage Area partnered to pay for painting the Church, Amulet and Keyser Street bridges at a cost of $25,000 with the Heritage Area paying $9,000 and the City paying the remainder.
Also introduced by ordinance was accepting the bid for runway and taxiway construction at Natchitoches Regional Airport. Regional Construction had the low bid of $2.9 million. The fully-funded grant is from the Federal Aviation Agency. It will also pay for change orders. There was one planning and zoning ordinance introduced seeking BA and B3 zoning for Mayeaux’s Steak and Seafood at 506 and 512 Front St.
The council cast affirmative votes adopting the following ordinances:
• Buildings declared unsafe and recommended for condemnation
•Awarded bid for Christmas lights to Dean Nida & Associates LLC of Sarasota, Fla., for $55,091
•Cooperative Endeavor Agreement between City and Crime Stoppers of Natchitoches
•Awarded lease of warehouse to Weyerhaeuser Trus Joist
•Cooperative Endeavor Agreement between City and CommCare Natchitoches for infrastructure for nursing home
•Resolution related to auto mall agreement for infrastructure