Village issues frequently center on the large, but aging water system, which is an important asset to Parks. At the Dec. 10 meeting, Councilman Harold “Kellogg” Robertson expressed dissatisfaction with the water quality and said the line flushing program has not been adequate. Fom left are Mayor Kevin Kately, Clerk Charlene Hill, Robertson and council member Myra Yvonne Narcisse.(Karl Jeter)
Water system, basketball court stir Parks tension
The low-key bayouside Village of Parks is best known for its big water system, which serves many times the population of the village, and for the popular annual Cracklin Festival.
But, as evidenced in the Dec. 10 Village Council meeting, things have taken a slightly less cooperative tone since the move to the new city hall building two months ago.
A detectable level of stress was evident in the relationship between some of the council members and Mayor Kevin Kately, centered on a few specific issues. The main sources of tension at the Dec. 10 meeting was water system operations, the purchase of a vehicle, and the condition of the outdoor basketball court at Cecile Rousseau Poche Memorial Park.
Councilman Harold “Kellog” Robertson has complained that Kately has not kept up with the water line flushing program started shortly after he came into office.
While several automatic flush valves have been installed in the past few years, they are mostly located on problem lines that are well outside village borders. Robertson has suggested that not enough flushing is being carried out closer to the water tower to maintain water quality within the village itself.
There does not, however, appear to have been an increase in water quality complaints coming into the office. Kately, who is a certified water system operator, said the age of the system and lack of a flushing program in the past has led to sediment in the lines that will require a long time to clear.
The kind of upgrades that would eliminate all complaints, he said, would probably result in a tripling of customer water bills.
A stressful relationship has also developed between council member Kanisha Potier and Kately. Potier has advocated a complete painting of the basketball court surface, despite a price tag of $14,000 for a professional company to do the work.
Potier took exception to Kately’s decision to forgo the professional painting of the court and purchase a set of templates at a cost of $156. Town workers could use the templates to repaint the court at very little cost.
The mayor told the Teche News he does not believe the cost of a full painting is justified, particularly after he was told the paint could only be expected to last for three to four years.
Kately said he believes $14,000 could be better spent replacing the worn-out benches in the park and finishing fence repairs. He said he has queried children playing on the court, as well as parents, and they do not appear to place a high value on a full repainting of the court.
Potier complained that she is not being kept “in the loop” on village decisions.
Both Potier and Robertson were critical of the recent purchase of a new police car for $32,000. Kately responded that the purchase had been approved long ago and he only recently concluded that the time had come to go ahead with it when the old unit became too costly to maintain.
Independent auditor Russell Champagne delivered an “unmodified,” or clean report on the city’s financial position for fiscal year 2019. Champagne explained that the year-to-year figures are somewhat confusing due to the fact that funds for the new city hall appeared on the books during the prior fiscal year although the money was not actually spend until 2019.
Champagne described the report as “very favorable.” It shows a net increase in the village’s fixed assets, increased income in the water system fund and a generally healthy financial condition for the Village, he said.