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Council To Purchase Playground Equipment

By Rebecca Burk Ellis / L’Observateur / June 1, 1998

LAPLACE – Instead of having to pay to dig up the Greenwood Pool, St. Johnthe Baptist Parish Council members will pay to equip it with playground equipment.

At the last St. John Parish Council meeting councilmen passed a resolutionto fill in the parish pool on Greenwood Drive because the damaged structure, which was a cracked and bulging hole in the ground, is a major insurance liability for the council.

After getting estimates members decided $25,000 would be sufficient to complete the job.

But Tuesday Parish President Arnold Labat disagreed. He vetoed theresolution, saying parish employees could get the job done faster and less expensive.

“I am vetoing the above referenced resolution because the parish was able to utilize its own equipment and material to complete the project in a more timely and economical manner,” Labat stated in his veto.

“Additionally, the excess spoil material used which was located adjacent to the canal bank created load forces on the canal side that could have lead to future bank failure. Furthermore, utilizing the excess spoilmaterial allows for improved landscaping and drainage of the park area to the canal.”Council members said they didn’t have any problems with the veto, as it would free up cash for them to spend equipping the new-found green space with playground equipment.

Councilman Duaine Duffy made an amendment stating to spend $15,000 of the $25,000 on playground equipment since the council no longer has to spend the money digging up the pool.

Labat said that’s fine with him, but he wanted to come back with a written plan.

But Councilman Steve Thornton suggested making the amount $20,000 with the recommendation of the administration.

Although Duffy had reservations at first, Councilman Nickie Monica seconded Thornton’s motion and it passed unanimously.

In other business, council members discussed the possibility of building a new driver’s license office in Reserve that would be bigger and better able to serve the public.

Labat said the job could be done for about $200,000 over 10 years, costing the parish about $26,000 a year.

Councilmen questioned where the money would come from, and Labat said that more transactions will be made in a larger office with more employees, raking in more money for the parish. St. John gets $2 on eachtransaction made.

Keeping that in mind experts estimate that a new office in St. John wouldbring in about $45,000 a year. And with about half of that being paid to anew employee, Labat said the parish would only have to come up with an extra $3,000 or $4,000. “It is financially feasible for us to do thisproject,” he said.

Councilman Perry Bailey made a motion requesting that the administration bring something more specific to them in writing before councilmen make a decision.

The councilmen voted unanimously.

“We are providing service to our people, and whatever we can do to move this thing forward we should do it,” Monica said.

Councilmen also listened to a report from Sheila Morris of the St. JohnHousing Authority on the decline of crime in the four housing projects in Edgard, LaPlace, Reserve and Garyville.

“We have been labeled as a crime-infested area, but with the help of the Sheriff’s Office and the residents we have reduced crime by 40 percent,” she said. “We haven’t had a murder in two years.”She added that deputies have been patrolling the four areas not only in police cars, but on foot, too.

“It’s hard to get the word out about the good things that are happening, and it’s nice to be able to do that,” Duffy said.

Lastly, Pat McTopy said a group of Russians were going to be visiting the parish June 11 to July 10 and will be attending the June 23 council meeting to learn more about local government. He said if anyone in thecommunity is interested in hosting a Russian in their home to call him at 652-3521.

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