Mayor Lee Posey held an Open Forum after Monday night’s City Council meeting, March 11, to discuss City projects, plans and future developments and to obtain constructive input from the community.
“I hear comments from people sometimes that say they’re not informed on what’s going on in the City and I want to make sure they have a voice in this,” he said.
He made sure to clarify that there is no tax money going toward firework shows for conferences that come to Natchitoches. Mayor Posey said they’re not letting them do these shows late at night, but if they want a 10 minute firework show and they want to pay for it (police and fireworks), he thinks why not let them have it because they love it and think it’s fantastic.
Mayor’s Update on Ongoing Projects:
- Parc Natchitoches supposed to be done by January 2020.
- Removed some parking to build a dog park at Parc Natchitoches.
- Ran out of money, but wrote two grants to help put some things back out there at Parc Natchitoches in the way of walking trails, biking trails and pavilions to make it about more than just sports out there.
- Partnered with NSU on the Grady Erwin Nature Area (85 acres) for walking and biking trails. Signage should be in the next three weeks and there will be a ribbon cutting.
- Added bathrooms to some parks, pavilions and playground equipment at others.
- Improvements to ADM facility. The Cane River National Heritage Area helping City go after RFPs to see what the potential for that property could be. The Mayor said he feels like the ADM facility has a lot of potential for the future of the Natchitoches community.
- Met with DOTD recently for an update on their priorities and the bridge came up. Several public hearings were held regarding the construction of a three-lane Church Street Bridge. The environmental impact study is supposed to be completed in June. Then there’s the design phase. Mayor Posey said it’ll probably be 2-3 more years before the project takes place.
- DOTD said the East Bypass is still a priority. It will come off of Grand Ecore somewhere and tie into North Williams. The next step once the design phase begins on the bypass, will be to look at hard surfacing Dirt Blanchard and tie it into Hard Blanchard.
- Overlaying priorities include: Jefferson Street, Williams Avenue from Keyser to Church Street Bridge, and Highway 1 South
- Mayor Posey said they have to be proactive about addressing crime in the community. The City ended the year on a tough note and started out the new year doing not so well. The Natchitoches Police Department put together an ASP Team (Additional Street Patrol). The City is seeing some results from this team. Putting body cameras on all the police officers several years ago has lowered the number of accusations made against them. They’ve also caught people doing things they weren’t supposed to be doing on the downtown riverbank thanks to security cameras installed in the area. Two additional cameras are on order, which will be installed at the recycling center to catch people who aren’t following the rules of recycling. The City is looking at buying even more cameras to put out in other areas for crime, littering, illegal dumping, etc…
- Met with committee to address littering, recycling and other things going on in the community. They came up with an idea to get back into educating students in the school system about recycling. Thinking about upping the fines for littering and getting more aggressive about cleaning up properties in the community.
- The City is old and the infrastructure is old. The City is replacing a lot of water lines. Work started in West Natchitoches around Bailey Heights. Then work began in East Natchitoches around Adelaide, East Fifth, Sirod, Whitfield and that area. Mayor Posey said they’re picking the areas that have the most calls in, the worst water issues. Once the work in East Natchitoches is done, they’re already designing another phase in West Natchitoches. Mayor Posey said they’re trying to be fair about the work that’s being done.
- The sewer lift station just got completed, an over $3 million project (some LCDBG money was included with this project). The City is also doing electrical upgrades.
- Problems on lighting, streets, drainage, etc. can be reported on the new City website (natchitochesla.gov)
- Issue of speeding on Jefferson Street. Several areas on Jefferson also hold water. Request for lighting upgrades on Second Street for walkers, particularly college students who are going from their apartments to the campus for classes. Also, Second Street has no lineage down the middle.
- Need help with increased crime and increased drug areas around Amulet, July, Powell, and Bailey Heights. The elderly are afraid to speak out in fear of retaliation.
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- Work needs to be done on Spring Street to fix deep pot holes
- Need for a “Block the Box” ordinance. People are in a hurry to get through traffic and block intersections, mainly at both ends of the Church Street Bridge, the Jefferson Street side of the Keyser Bridge, and the four-way stop at the intersection of Church and Second Streets. Police Chief Mickey Dove said this is already considered a traffic violation and it just takes officers on duty in these areas to enforce it, like they do with speeding, loud music, etc.