Parish Council approves breakwater project, wastewater maintenance

Published 9:54 am Saturday, September 2, 2023

LAPLACE — Enhanced flood protection for St. John the Baptist Parish residents continues to draw closer, with the Parish Council approving $9.6 million for a breakwater project during a meeting Aug. 22.

Chief Administrative Officer Peter Montz said the breakwater project will add linear feet to reach the St. Charles boundary and will be adjacent to the existing USACE breakwater. He pointed out the project is being funded through federal GOMESA funds.

Councilwoman Tonia Schnyder was concerned about not having enough time to review the information before voting on approval of the project, noting the Parish Council had not received any supporting documents on proposed resolutions as of 5 p.m. Friday, August 18.

Parish President Jaclyn Hotard said the information regarding the breakwater project and all other agenda items was sent Aug. 19 since the staff member who normally emails the information was sick. The parish president also noted the booklets distributed to council members are just copulations of information previously available.

Councilwoman Tammy Houston thanked Hotard for always making herself available to review and explain documents.

Later in the meeting, the Parish Council discussed a motion to award a bid for wastewater collection and treatment maintenance and repairs on an as-needed basis to RAMJ Construction LLC of Kenner. RAMJ’s quote of $3.3 million was nearly $3 million less than the bid of J. Caldarera & Company of LaPlace, which was the only other bidder for the project.

Schnyder admitted she did not have much time to read the information and added, “I am concerned about the bid being half the price (of the only other bidder). I want to be sure they are not overbidding it and then come back with change orders.”

Councilman Warren Torres agreed, saying, “Something is not right. It’s too far off.”

“We have reached out to RAMJ, and they are very firm in their prices,” Montz said. “They have reiterated to us that they can perform these services at the prices they submitted.”

Hotard said the bids are very specific and include unit quantities.

“This contract is for an as-needed basis. It’s not for a specific building. You don’t typically see change orders when you have unit pricing unless it was for some type of unforeseen (event),” Hotard said. “We’ve seen in many bids from the past where one might be $5 million different from the other company, so we can’t speculate on that.”

The Parish Council voted to approve the contract, with Torres voting in dissent and Schnyder abstaining. Services funded through the wastewater budget include maintenance and emergency repairs on the wastewater collection and treatment system on an as-needed basis as directed by the Utilities Department.

In other matters, the council approved the parish to solicit bids for rehabilitation projects for three lift stations.

Also approved was authorization to solicit bids for the Woodland Regional Pump Station Project, which is estimated at $6 million and will be funded through the LDEQ Clean Water State Revolving Loan/Water Sector Commission Fund.

The project involves installing a new wastewater triplex pump station that will transfer all current wastewater from the Woodland pump to the River Road wastewater treatment plant.

Solicitation of bids to replace mechanical equipment and installation of an emergency generator at the Cambridge #1 pump station was also approved.