Published 12:00 am Monday, December 22, 2008
By ROBIN SHANNON
LAPLACE — Pending Council approval Tuesday, St. John voters will go to the polls to accept or reject $29.5 million for a wide range of capital improvement projects for the East Bank and West Bank of the parish.
St. John Public Information Officer Buddy Boe said the measure would be similar to the $25 million bond proposal that failed in a parish wide vote back in July.
He said the updated version features a few tweaks and will be introduced as five separate propositions on a ballot scheduled for April 4, 2009.
The measures will be broken down as follows:
—Proposition 1: $8 million for construction and improvements to the St. John Parish water system. Boe said money is slated to go toward an expansion of the Lyons water treatment plant on the East Bank, renovations at the Edgard water treatment plant on the West Bank and repairs to water towers and tanks parish wide.
“The parish’s water system has suffered through eight years of neglect,” said Boe. “The Edgard plant is in dire need of repair and the East Bank suffers from a water quantity issue that will be resolved with the improvements that are planned.”
Boe said the East Bank improvements would satisfy increased water capacity demands from Cargill Inc., who are planning construction of a sugar refinery in Reserve. He said Cargill is also contributing $1 million to the system upgrade.
—Proposition 2: $7 million for improvements to public buildings parish wide. Boe said the improvements would be based on the findings of a $62,000 building use study that was conducted in the parish in March.
The plan includes renovation of the Edgard courthouse, in an effort to provide better safety to the parish judges, an upgrade at the East Bank Courthouse Annex, also known as the Arcuri Center, and expansion of the Percy D. Hebert Building in LaPlace.
—Proposition 3: $9.7 million for a wide range of drainage improvements for St. John, with $4 million of that serving as the local match for phase I of St. John’s lakefront levee protection. Boe said the levee is planned to run from the St. Charles Parish line to I-55 in St. John.
“Levees and drainage go hand in hand,” said Boe. “To have levees you need pumps and canals to send the water out of residential areas.”
Boe said the remaining $5.7 million would go toward upgraded pump stations, drainage canal improvements and repairs to the St. Peter’s drainage basin, Old Riverlands drainage basin and St. Joan of Arc drainage basin.
Proposition 4: $2 million for East Bank road improvements, which will focus on intersection improvements along Airline Highway. Boe said the money would fund design and engineering for improvements to the Belle Terre interchange, the Hemlock interchange and the US 51/Main Street interchange.
“Since Airline Highway is a federal road the parish would have to go to the state to get funding for construction,” said Boe. “What we are doing is getting the design and engineering out of the way so that we can go to the state with what we want to see done.”
—Proposition 5: $2.8 million for improvements to East Bank and West Bank parks, playgrounds and other recreational facilities. Boe said part of that money would be dedicated to a new gymnasium somewhere on the East Bank of the parish, as well as improvements to the West Bank Park Complex that came out of a 2002 bond issue.
The council will vote to put the bond issue on the April ballot at Tuesday’s council meeting at the Percy Hebert building in LaPlace starting at 6 p.m.