New faces – At the first full meeting of the St. Martin Parish Council, members heard a report on the initial list of road improvements projects proposed for 2020.
Recreation changes, roads topics for Parish Council
St. Martin Parish is planning to make some changes in the management system for recreation programs at parish parks.
Introduced at the Jan. 21 Public Works Committee meeting was an ordinance amendment dissolving the existing steering committee and replacing it with a board of directors.
Parish President Chester Cedars explained that the move is intended to bring more consistency to park usage policies, space rentals and the handling of complaints.
“This will simply implement the process we have been moving toward for several years,” he said. “As members of a board of directors, the individuals who represent each park will have more authority by ordinance than they do as members of a steering committee. And, with this system there will be uniformity. We will have the same rules for every ball game at every park.”
The board’s membership and leadership will mostly mirror that of the steering committee and the member’s compensation will remain the same.
Phillip Parker, a civil engineer with the Duplantis Design Group, presented an initial list of prospective parish road improvements for 2020.
Cedars commented that, at $1.5 million, the budget will not come close to satisfying the priorities submitted by council members for repairs needed in their districts. “It’s not a whole lot of money,” he said. “(When) we’re looking at a total need of close to $18 million.”
The initial list, Parker said, was compiled mostly from analysis of GoogleEarth images. It will be pared down to a shorter list following on-the-ground inspections by the engineering team. Roads that don’t make the short list will automatically roll over for consideration next year.
Cedars reiterated that the list demonstrates the importance of a full renewal of Sales Tax District 1 boundaries by voters in the 2020 election. Some parish municipalities have sought to eliminate the tax in newly-annexed areas.
“Make no mistake about it,” he commented, “the proceeds from that tax are the meat and potatoes of our road maintenance program. We can’t afford to lose any part of it.”
Changes to the flood plain ordinance passed by the council on Dec. 3, 2019, were discussed.
Cedars said that, following an explanation of the insurance implications from building inspectors Rodney “Cooney” Richard and Claire Richard, a recommended change in the scope of the ordinance will be put before the council.
As originally drawn, the ordinance would have applied a “freeboard” requirement, or height of the foundation above the nearest street, of one foot for new construction within official flood risk areas.
The change would make the ordinance applicable to all new construction in the parish, regardless of the FEMA or Corps of Engineers flood risk rating.
Richard told the council the new freeboard standard could reduce the cost of flood insurance premiums through the National Flood Insurance Program by 50 percent.
In other business,
•Pelican Waste Removal representative Roddie Matherne reported that changes are in the works to make it easier to register complaints. He said that residential recycling rates, at about 40 percent, are running above the national average.
•Cedars said that the parish is still struggling with some land owners to get access for clearing drainage canals. “We will do whatever is necessary to get access,” he insisted.