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Buyout of last property on Silverleaf is done deal

Special to The Weekly Citizen

The process of purchasing every parcel of property on Silverleaf Street, the epicenter of repetitive flood loss in the City of Gonzales, is complete. Certain of the property owners had resided on the flooding prone street for three decades, plus. The buyout program, funded through the US Department of Agriculture, was prompted by 2016 flooding, when 41 parcels were inundated.

The process of purchasing every parcel of property on Silverleaf Street, the epicenter of repetitive flood loss in the City of Gonzales, is complete.

"This is an area unsuitable for residential development," said Gonzales Councilman Harold Stewart, whose efforts were instrumental in securing agreement with property owners. "Since 2016, we have been working diligently to get these deals done. If I learned one thing, it is how fortunate Gonzales is to have Jackie Baumann."

Baumann is Gonzales' City Engineer.

Silverleaf abuts 50 acres of wetlands owned by the City of Gonzales. The entire area will be returned to that designation. Homes and infrastructure will be razed, and the area will revert to its natural state.

"It was an unfortunate situation for all concerned," Stewart said. "Persistent drainage problems resulted in regular flooding fears whenever we experience a rain event."

Rampant growth inside the city limits and beyond has presented new challenges for Gonzales and East Ascension Parish, where the East Ascension Consolidated Gravity Drainage District No. 1 is responsible for all major drainage. The Town of Sorrento recently filed a lawsuit seeking judicial declaration of the District's "duties and obligations" inside the two east bank municipalities.

Approximately 60 percent of east Ascension is flood zone, including much of the city. As development continues unabated, necessary mitigation measures have been a hot topic for Ascension's Parish Council. It matters in Gonzales because the parish signs off on drainage impact for development inside the city.

"I am very concerned about residents of low-lying areas," Stewart said. "We are aware of those new regulations adopted by Ascension's council, particularly when it comes to fill material allowed for new construction. Recent flash-flooding events have caused havoc for some of our residents too."