St. John Parish lift stations ditching diesel generators

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 15, 2014

By Richard Meek
Contributing Writer

LAPLACE – Residents in St. John the Baptist Parish weary of living within earshot of noisy diesel generators that are powering lift stations may soon be getting relief.

Parish officials told council members the parish will soon be out of the diesel business, with gas generators having been ordered. The pumps have been a source of disconcertion for residents living near the generators, which cycle on and off throughout the night, since Hurricane Isaac damaged many of the lift stations.

One resident recently played a tape recording of the intrusive noise to the council members, who were surprised at the decibel level.

The only reluctance council members expressed was during a discussion about approving a change order of $11,780 for the project, asking if similar increases could be expected. The source of concern is placing the pumps on slabs near the station.

“Will (the contractors) come back and tell us that the pumps will have to be raised?” council member Cheryl Millett said. Council member Lucien Gauff expressed his displeasure when he learned the slab issue was not addressed in the request for proposals.

He added that it was his understanding that some of the pumps were already on slabs.

Director of Public Works Brian Nunes specified that a platform is being built for the LaPlace Park pump and each station is being evaluated to determine if a slab will be required.

“When it’s determined there is need there, we are raising them,” Nunes said.

In other council news, members approved a change order of $18,158 for the renovation of the parish courthouse in Edgard. Chief Administrative Officer Randy Vincent said contractors encountered piping issues in the aging buildings, as well as lighting problems and tiles in the roof.

Pipes had to be rerouted and a more expensive type of insulation ordered so it could arrive on site quicker because of the unforeseen change, construction officials said.

Gauff said it seemed like (Foret Contracting Group LLC) is “nickeling and diming us with change orders.”

Parish President Natalie Robottom pointed out that only two change orders have been presented to the council, totaling $20,000 of a project costing $2.1 million.

“We want to stay as close to the budget as possible, but when doing construction to a facility that’s been in existence for a long time you run into things that occur and make decisions that are in the best interest of the project,” Robottom said. “Some of the (increased cost) is related to unpristine conditions. We know we have a very old facility.”