Chamber survey shows residents most concerned about parish roads

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 18, 2006



LAPLACE – Results of an extensive regional survey by the River Region Chamber has found that residents here see road construction as the number one concern facing this area.

The River Region Chamber unveiled results from its survey this week at three different breakfast gatherings, one for each parish.

On Wednesday, Riverlands Country Club hosted the St. John meeting which included top parish leaders and business people, who got results of the survey from Jack Vincent, president of Performance Development Plus, the company which oversaw the survey.

Ranked as the number one concern of people in St. John was infrastructure and roads, with planning and zoning number two, crime number three, leadership number four, economic development fifth, hurricane protection sixth, and residential development seventh.

&#8220It’s clear that people think we need more alternative roads in St. John,” Vincent said. &#8220There have been no major roads built here in 10 years.”

Vincent said that the River Region needs to learn from the mistakes made in St. Tammany Parish, where explosive growth has created many problems.

&#8220We need to address these concerns now, especially since there are so many predictions of many new people coming to St. John,” he said.

The survey was conducted by starting with six roundtable discussions, including a separate meeting for industry leaders. Then an online survey was offered through the Chamber website.

Chamber Chairman Blaise Gravois said that the intent of the survey was to identify key areas of need, and then be pro-active to address them.

&#8220The Chamber statement says we should be pro-active to help growth in this area,” he explained. &#8220Now we want to take this information, and form a Task Force for three or four top areas of concern, and plan to be pro-active in addressing them.”

Even the regional survey, covering St. Charles and St. James parishes along with St. John, showed road construction as the number one concern.

Ranking second on the regional list was insurance, with workforce development third.

St. John Parish President Nickie Monica spoke to the group after the results of the survey were announced, and addressed many areas touched on by the survey.

&#8220I think some of the problem is that many people are not informed about the things we are doing to address these areas,” he noted. &#8220We’ve just seen the start of a connecting road in Gramercy for Hwy. 3127, and we have put up $15,000 for a feasibility study to extend that road to Highway 1.

&#8220We are continuing to work hard to get a new Interstate 10 interchange in Reserve, and we are close to having a parish transit system here, which would alleviate some of the traffic congestion,” he said.

Monica also seemed bothered by what appeared to be criticism of his planning and zoning department, which was criticized for not being &#8220customer friendly.”

&#8220We handle 1,000 permits a month, but when there is one or two problems, those people complain in a survey like this. It’s not really fair in terms of the job we’re doing,” he added. &#8220We must be doing a lot of things right around here since St. John is growing rapidly. But we’re always looking for ways to improve, and I think this survey will help us stay ahead of the best way to do that.”