Arceneaux sees city rebounding in Phase 2

Scott J. Anderson

The City of Gonzales weathered another wave of adversity as Tropical Storm Cristobal shifted to the east, bringing only rain to the area.

"It was more of a rain event, which we needed," Mayor Barney Arceneaux said. "But we were prepared. We had our teams out. We did a lot of sandbagging ahead of the storm, and we delivered a lot of sandbags. We still have about 10,000 sandbags on the ground.

"We looked at it as a good training for our people, a dress rehearsal for the real thing."

Scot Byrd, chief administrative officer for the city, said city employees performed "flawlessly."

"We've got some folks who have been here for some time," he said. "Veterans who have been through it before. That works out very well for us. It was a good team effort."

The preparation for the tropical storm came just as the city moved into Phase 2 of Gov. John Bel Edwards' Resilient Louisiana guidelines for reopening the state. Arceneaux said Phase 2 started well for Gonzales.

"Business is coming back," he said. "Tanger Outlets is back. Cabela's is back. All the stories along Airline Highway are back. We are seeing more and more activity."

The mayor said he also has seen increased activity in the city's parks and other public spaces. The city pool is open under controlled conditions. The number of swimmers allowed is based on the number of lifeguards on duty.

Arceneaux added that youth baseball and softball was picking up again, on a limited basis.

"It's not as active as it normally would be," he said. "Everything is just getting off the ground. The Dixie Youth folks have canceled All-Stars for this season. It's just our local teams playing each other."

Arceneaux said he is working with organizers to explore the prospects for two community events that were postponed during the governor's stay-at-home order.

"We would have had two festivals by now," Arceneaux said. "The Jambalaya Festival was postponed, and so was the Shrimp Festival."

Arceneaux said organizers of both events are considering smaller events later this year, or just postponing until next year.

"The concern is whether dates will open up and will folks come out and enjoy themselves," he said. "Those are the big question marks."