Parish awards contract to parish engineer

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 16, 2001


LAPLACE – The $3.5 million sewer treatment plant design, a plan that won over the idea of refurbishing an old oxidation pond to help with St. John Parish’s overburdened sewer system, was recently awarded to the parish’s consultant engineer. After a few weeks of battling, the council approved the plant and later approved an adjustment to C.J. Savoie’s contract with the parish to allow him to build the plant in Reserve. Though the question of a possible conflict was raised since Savoie oversees other engineers working on projects and this project would be completed by his firm, very little had to be adjusted in his current contract to allow him to be awarded the plant. “There is no conflict,” said Savoie. He added that overseeing other parish projects is simply a small portion of his job. He also checks on parishwide drainage, does permits, answers questions about water and sewer in the parish, is currently working on a project at the Edgard courthouse and reviews other engineers’ plans and speculations. “They came and asked me to do this job. I did not solicit them. They decided to do a plant instead of the oxidation pond,” said Savoie. He added that there would have to be a small provision in his contract to allow him to do large projects. He currently works under a retainer, and the building of the plant could cost up to three times what his yearly retainer is. “They decided to grant a variance and pay additional compensation,” he said. “If they need to hire someone to oversee my work, then that’s fine, but I don’t think that’s necessary.” Awarded the contract Tuesday night at a council meeting, Savoie is now working on preparing a contract for the plant and will then have to get it signed by administration. Parish President Nickie Monica vetoed the approval of the treatment plant after the council voted for the project, but the council overrode the veto and decided to go ahead with the construction of the plant. Monica urged the council to look into other possible engineering firms for the project. “They are just concerned that us working on this project will take away from our other work with the parish. We have a full staff, and we are well-equipped to do this project,” said Savoie. The oxidation pond, which was shut down because of unsatisfactory conditions, was already being revamped when the council voted to start building a sewer plant. About $100,000 had already been spent on the pond. According to Savoie, it will take about seven months to complete the design of the plant and another eight months to build it. He believes the plant will benefit the parish much more than the pond would. “I think it’s a better idea. This initial plant is part of a regional system, the first stage in the system. It can be added on to enlarge it. The plant will be better in maintenance and meet requirements of the DEQ, which the pond may or may not be able to meet,” said Savoie. Savoie has been working as the parish engineer since 1992, but also spent from 1984-1988 working on other projects for the parish. Currently, he is working on two similar projects in other parishes. The plant will be built near the old oxidation pond on Za Road in Reserve.