Carolyn Roy | News Editor
It looks as though East Natchitoches residents whose homes and property flood during a heavy rain are about to get help although it may take two years for it to get here. At the City Council meeting Monday, Parish President John Richmond talked about a $3.4 million matching grant from the La. Watershed Initiative that will pay to construct a new drainage ditch that will direct water from the present East Natchitoches Drainage Canal to the north end of Cane River. It will lower the drainage level by 1.5 to 2 feet.
It will not only alleviate flooding in the City along Blanchard, St. Clair, Caitlin, Ledet, Keyser and St. Maurice Lane but also in the farmland east of the city. Obtaining the right-of-way, engineering the project and bidding it out will take about two years. Then construction will begin. The match amount will be $688,000 that Richmond proposed to be shared by the City, Parish Government, Cane River Waterway Commission and Natchitoches Drainage and Levee Board. Richmond asked the Council to consider paying about $200,000 with the other entities paying proportional amounts.
According to the Hydrologic and Hydraulics Report on the East Natchitoches Drainage Canal, the new ditch will be about 5 feet above the elevation of the present canal. The report says that higher rates of storm water discharge will flow through the new ditch and canal into Bayou Poisson, discharging into Cane River Lake. About 6,500 people live in the study area is single-family dwellings.
The report says there are more than 1,500 agricultural fields inundated during a 100-year storm event potentially resulting in over $9.5 million in crop losses.
In other business, during the pre-meeting, developer Tom Tubre asked the Mayor and Council to facilitate cleaning three City-owned lots at 1150 Grace, 1211 Berry and 1302 Dixie. Tubre wants to build three single-family home at those addresses as part of a $600,000 project to be financed by Louisiana Housing Authority. The problem is the adjoining blighted properties with one looking like an auto-wrecking yard with numerous abandoned vehicles. “Everyone is short-handed. We must work together and I ask you to do all you can to clean up the lots,” Tubre said.
Director of Planning and Zoning Shontrell Roque said he had contracted with someone to clean and cut the lots and was working on all the properties. She asked Tubre to be patient.
Under planning and zoning, the council adopted an ordinance adding additional zoning at 506 and 512 Front St. for Mayeaux’s Steak and Seafood. The final action added additional zoning to the building next door that once housed the soap shop. There were no new ordinances introduced but several introduced at the last meeting were adopted.
•Accepting the bid for runway and taxiway construction at Natchitoches Regional Airport. Regional Construction had the low bid of $2.9 million.
•Awarded lease with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Acadiana to open a club in the Ben Johnson Auditorium. Mayor Ronnie Williams Jr. said the project began under the previous administration.
•Cooperative Endeavor Agreement between City and Natchitoches Economic Development Alliance for Grant Façade Program for Texas and Washington Street corridor There was one resolution adopted. It is an agreement with La. DOTD for the City to mow grass and pick up litter from July 1-June 30 on State highways within the City for maximum amount of $29,280. Mayor Ronnie Williams Jr. announced the new office hours effective Monday, July 19.
•The utility Service Center will have drive-thru hours of 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Thursday; Friday hours will be 7 a.m.- 2 p.m.
•Lobby hours will be Monday through Thursday 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; Friday 7:30 a.m. until noon.
•City offices including City Hall, Finance, Mayor’s Office and Planning and Zoning, Purchasing and Police Records will be open to the public Monday through Thursday 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; Friday 7:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. City offices will close July 5 to observe July 4. The next City Council meeting will be Monday, July 12.