Parish Council gives approval to repair on Carrollwood Drive

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 30, 2007


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – The St. John the Baptist Parish Council decided Tuesday to allow administration to move forward with repairs to Carrollwood Drive between Airline Highway and Madewood-Dominican drives in LaPlace, despite an objection from Wal-Mart to help pay for the work.

Parish President Nickie Monica said the parish was counting on the discount store putting up about 80 percent of the cost of the roadwork before the store’s position on responsibility changed. He now says money will be transferred into the road and bridges budget to pay for improvements.

District 4 Councilwoman Jaclyn Hotard said when Wal-Mart expanded into a Supercenter in 2004, the retailer paid to resurface the street and add a turning lane and catch basins to the road since the street is adjacent to the Supercenter facility. She said only a few years after initial improvements, the road is in disrepair again.

“Most of the traffic is Wal-Mart traffic, and we felt they should contribute to repairs,” said Hotard. “There are other retailers that use that street for deliveries, but the only big trucks that travel that far down are from Wal-Mart.”

St. John Chief Administrative Officer Natalie Robottom said Wal-Mart had sent someone out to look at the damage because they initially believed their delivery trucks had an influence on the dilapidation of the street. She said after taking photos and surveying the damage, the retailer changed its opinion.

Attempts to contact Wal-Mart for comment on their reversal were unsuccessful as of press time.

Robottom said the parish is still working with Wal-Mart regarding payment for the repairs. She said she is still hopeful that the store might change their position, but the parish will not wait around for the retailer to step up.

“We need to move forward with this because of safety reasons on the street,” said Robottom. “Wal-Mart still might change their mind, but we can’t wait any longer.”

Council attorney Jeff Perilloux said there is a very, very outside chance the parish might pursue legal action, but only as a last resort in the future. He said he has not been involved in any discussions regarding the matter.

Monica said repairs will start sometime around the first of the year, after the busy Christmas shopping season is over.

“It would be very hard to take that road out at this time of year,” said Monica. “Just committing money to the project is saying a lot.”

Monica said the money would be transferred from the parish’s economic development budget. He said the cost of repairs would stand at about $350,000.

Parish Director of Public Works Mark Howard could not give an exact time table on the repairs, but said since the funds were worked into the 2008 budget, construction should start soon. He said he will work with the parish’s road surface contractor, Coastal, to do the work.