My name is Diane Dodd. My family is the owner of the location that is being considered for the location of a “temporary bridge” while the Church Street Bridge is going through renovation: 1128 Williams Ave, Natchitoches, LA 71457.
In January, 2015, this property was for sell and the Mayor of Natchitoches was considering purchasing the property for $219,000.00 from the then owners; the Sibley family. The Natchitoches City Council then requested the affected residents to voice their concerns regarding this matter. In a standing room only meeting, not only did the residents voice their desires not to support the purchase of 1128 Williams Ave by the city, but also voiced their concerns about a “temporary bridge” being put in the middle of a residential neighborhood. The City Council voted against the purchase of 1128 Willams Ave.
December 12, 2016, another item made its way back on the City Council agenda. This item was the “Highland Park Road – 1128 Williams Ave project.” However, at this time, I had already purchased the home from the Sibley family the previous month. We were already in the process of demolishing the existing home to begin the construction of the dream home we had planned for in retirement for many years, so you can imagine my surprise when I found out about this new agenda item. Even with only a days notice, I, and many other residents who likewise only had a days notice, attended the meeting with the thought that our last minute notice was the city’s way of getting the item voted on without the residents input. Natchitoches City Council voted 5-0 AGAINST the Highland Park Road-1128 Williams Ave location.
Based on the above vote, and the council stating that the item was ‘dead in the water’, we continued with our construction plans. However, June of 2017, I received a phone call from my neighbor stating the Louisiana Department of Transportation & Development was still considering the Highland Park Road-1128 Williams Ave location as the site for the temporary bridge. Once again through word of mouth. Why is it that if this is MY property I do not have the courtesy of hearing first hand what is on the table for it?
I believe a bridge placed at 1128 Williams would not only plummet the value of the beautiful homes along Williams Ave removing the historical feel of the area, but also become a major safety hazard for anyone walking near the street being that there are no sidewalks for the pedestrians to safely travel along. The property is on a major curve which also presents major safety concerns, and developing this bridge would cause many of our neighbors to have their properties affected to insure that the area was not a safety hazard.
Why can’t D.O.T. consider the temporary bridge to be placed next to the “Church Street” bridge just like they did for the “Keyser Bridge”? I was also made aware of the fact D.O.T. has no plans to place 2 lanes with a turning lane, just like the Keyser Bridge project. Why go through all this just to place the same amount of lanes on the new bridge? This will do nothing to alleviate the traffic crossing over the bridge. My wish, and suggestion is for DOT to do exactly what they did with the Keyser Ave bridge renovation.
Lastly, I spent nearly 30 years on the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and always dreamt of retiring in Natchitoches. I owned a piece of property on the cane river out of town for nearly 25 years with the intent of building and retiring on it. However, when this amazing property became available, I sold it to live out our dream IN TOWN and nearer to the community. My entire family is from Natchitoches and we have deep Creole roots in Natchitoches Parish. We were living our dream until Mayor Posey met with me after I had already purchased the home and applied for a demolishion permit. When he initially asked for a meeting with me after applying for my demolition permit, I genuinely thought he was welcoming me to the town. But no, he was turning my dream into a nightmare. He mentioned the “temporary bridge” and this was the first time I had even heard the news. Not even the Sibley family made me aware of this news prior to them selling me their property.
I want you all to know this: Even if I hadn’t purchased the property at 1128 Williams Ave, I would stand in solidarity with the residents against any “temporary bridge” being placed at this location. I would stress for the location to be adjacent to the Church Street bridge likened to how the Keyser Ave Bridge renovation was performed.
Thank you for your time,
Owner of 1128 Willams Ave
The Natchitoches Parish Journal received this letter. The views and opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Natchitoches Parish Journal. If you have an article or story of interest for publishing consideration by the NPJ, please send it to NPJNatLa@gmail.com.