The Roads of the Future

Leslie D. Rose Weekly Citizen Editor

Many roads were discussed at the July 6 Ascension Parish Strategic Planning meeting.

Present council members were Kent Schexnaydre, Daniel Satterlee, Benny Johnson and Dempsey Lambert. Joining the council for the discussion was Parish President Tommy Martinez.

Opening with a prayer led by Ken Dawson, COA Ascension Parish, Councilman Schexnaydre kept the praise going as he gave tribute to the late Bobby Amedee.

Hailing Amedee as the patriarch of Ascension Parish, Schexnaydre said that he was a regular person, but great nonetheless.

“That’s who made our parish what it is,” Schexnaydre said. “You don’t have to do anything special, just do whatever you do very well and take care of your family.”

There were no public comments to be discussed, but a lengthy segment on utility construction procedures for subdivisions greatly considered the needs of the affected communities, namely keeping costs out of resident’s pockets.

Extensive research was discussed and the construction issue was determined to be contractors being limited to minimal utility companies, or what was referred to as utility companies possessing a “monopoly” on certain areas.

The question then became who would be responsible for inspecting completed projects – the city, parish or contractors.

Dawson said that several years ago a meeting was held with developers and it was determined that sleevings were the way to go.

“We are looking to make an ordinance of sleeves,” he said.

However when it became clear that a reasonable resolve could not be reached in such a short time period, Councilman Saterlee urged members to place the item on the next meeting agenda to discuss further.

A discussion on traffic studies, led by Bob Horner – engineering, was also held. Councilman Saterlee commended Horner on his study, even saying that he just couldn’t stop reading over it.

An issue, however, keeping the planning from being fully implemented is lack of funding available for transportation.

Martinez remarked that by his estimates, it would take $9 million a year to maintain transportation.

“We have 512-513 miles in the parish,” Martinez said. “We get $8 million a year – we fall $1 million a year behind – the bottom line is that we [don’t] have the money to improve the roads.

My suggestion is to come up with a plan – you go back in debt, but at least you have some instant gratification.”

Martinez did acknowledge the parish’s $26 million ‘rainy day fund’, saying that it is only enough to run government for three months in the event of an emergency, such as a hurricane, in which FEMA funds are reimbursement based, not up front.

An upcoming drainage meeting will address FEMA flood maps as they have been modified. Martinez said he will also call for a public meeting with a higher up from FEMA to discuss the maps at length.