City Council discusses traffic, Summertree Apartments, $8 million budget amendment, creation of EDD for River South Commons Shopping Center

The Natchitoches City Council learned about Traffic Calming Countermeasures at its Jan. 24 meeting during a presentation. A task force formed locally will work to review data from the Natchitoches Police Department on crashes and speeding citations, select streets to target in the initial round of work, review best practices (nation-wide), select specific countermeasures for implementation on targeted streets, evaluate effectiveness of implemented countermeasures and engage DOTD with local concerns on state routes.

The high priority streets identified so far have “through traffic.” This includes Fairgrounds Road and Parkway Drive. Residential neighborhoods include Towne South Subdivision, University Terrace Subdivision, Melrose Subdivision and Amanda Street.

Initial recommendations (low cost countermeasures) are to replace deficient speed limit signs, install additional signs where needed (at proper height of 7 feet), and install warning signs as needed (“watch for pedestrians” or “intersection ahead”).

DOTD is looking at possible locations for roundabouts including one on Texas Street. Final design is expected toward the end of 2022 with construction beginning in 2023.

DOTD is also preparing plans for the replacement of the Church Street Bridge. Final plans are due in May of 2023. A preliminary schedule includes the receipt of bids in July of 2023. The first step will be to construct the temporary detour bridge, which would potentially begin around the end of 2024. 

Another task force recommendation is to establish a separate sign department, which may present an issue budgetary wise because it will cost money.

Yet another recommendation is to implement a lower speed limit (15 MPH) in the aforementioned residential neighborhoods. This will require the adoption of a new city ordinance. 

The task force feels the City needs a campaign slogan to put on signs around town to raise awareness among motorists. Possibilities include:

“Drive 25 To Stay Alive”
“Slow Down Natchitoches”
“This Is A Neighborhood, Not A Racetrack”

Submit ideas for camping slogan to nverretjr@natchitochesla.gov.

In other business, there was a call with representatives for the Summertree apartments on Jan. 24 who said they should have some positive information for the City within the next two weeks. Council Member at Large Betty Smith said the Council members have heard “two weeks” many times and that they’re going to give him two weeks and then they’ll ask Planning Director Shontrell Roque to put the property on the list for demolition. Smith and Council Member Dale Nielsen asked that this item be put on the agenda for the next Council meeting.

Agenda Items:

PLANNING & ZONING – FINAL:

  • Change Zoning Classification Of Property Described As Follows: Lots 2 & 3 Block M of S & P Addition.  (125 North St./821 West St.).
  • Change Zoning Classification Of Property Described As Follows: Being The Exchange Bank Branch Building Lying In The Northwest Corner Of Lot 23 Of West Broadmoor Subdivision.  (203 Keyser Ave.)
  • Change Zoning Classification Of Property Described As Follows: Lot Southeast Corner Of Isadore Drive And Keyser Ave. Shown As Lot “A” On Plat I Map Book 1, Page 587, Less 0.098 Of An Acre To Highway Department. (601 Keyser Ave.)
  • ORDINANCES – INTRODUCTION:
    Amend The 2021-2022 Budget To Reflect Additional Revenues and Expenditures. This $8,000,000 amendment for CLECO relates to an increase in expenditures for buying power, but revenues are up as well because the City then sells said power to its customers. This amendment should get the City through the rest of the fiscal year at which point, power prices should be tapering off. May see a price drop toward normal rates in March. The rates are currently up about 20 percent. The increase and decrease in rates is driven by the price of natural gas, which has been extremely low for the past five or so years. The federal government is also scaling back coal driven power plants so more power is created using natural gas right now, which drives the whole economy for energy purchases up. 
  • Declare Certain Buildings Unsafe And Recommending That Same Be Demolished Or Put Into Repair To Comply With The Building Code. 

This Includes The Following Properties:

  • 918 Bayou Jacko St.
  • 1016 Collins St.
  • 225 Gibson St.
  • 232 Julia St.
  • 1401 Grayson St.
  • 928 Short Seventh St. The people living in this structure were connecting to a nearby house to steal electricity.
  • 1428 Sawyer St.
  • 1530 West Court Dr.
  • 402 Rowena St.
  • 517 Lafayette St.
  • RESOLUTIONS:
    Execute Change Order No. 6 To The Contract Between The City Of Natchitoches And Regional Construction, LLC For Phase 3 Street Rehabilitation to increase the contract sum in the amount of $4,537 for a revised contract total of $708,489 (Bid No. 0629). The purpose of this change order is to provide for sealing isolated random cracks that have developed in the newly-constructed asphalt pavement on Monroe Drive, Johnson Lane, Von Orange Lane, and Chinquapin Drive. Upon investigation, the City engineer has determined that these cracks are not the result of construction defects, in terms of either the materials or workmanship.
  • Advertise For Bids For FY 2021-2022 Phase I Street Rehabilitation (Bid No. 0641).
  • Advertise And Accept Bids For Christmas Lighting Supplies (Bid No. 0644).
  • Authorize Shontrell Roque To Sign Checks In The Absence Of A Finance Director.
  • Approve The Assignment And Assumption Agreement Of That Lease Of Lot 1 Of The Natchitoches Regional Airport From Foshee Dusting Co. Inc., To Nor-Wes, Inc., Including The Authorization Of The Mayor To Execute That Instrument Captioned Assignment And Assumption Agreement And Further Authorizing An Amendment To The Lease In Favor Of Foshee Dusting Co. To Correct An Error In Dates.
  • Resolution Of Support For The River South Commons Shopping Center On South Drive In The City Of Natchitoches. There is almost 80,000 square feet of leased space vacant. The owners of the center have an opportunity to lease to several large national tenants. Mayor Ronnie Williams Jr. is requesting an incentive package be created to aid with the development of the vacant space to allow developers to completely renovate the entire shopping center, including the parking lot, lighting, and signage. The Administration is strongly considering future legislation that an economic development district be created that will enable placing an additional sales tax for all sales within the shopping center that will create incentives for the owners of the shopping center with no cost to the City. The new tenants have provided tentative information that the redevelopment of the center will create significant employment of approximately 70 new jobs, projected sales tax revenue of approximately $1,000,000 annually and significant utility revenue to the City.
  • Enter Into A Contract With Travelers Casualty And Surety Company Of America For The Public Official Schedule Bond For The City Of Natchitoches.

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

The next scheduled City Council meeting will be Monday, February 14, 2022.


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