Plaquemine Mayor Ed Reeves Jr. met with the members of the City Council to explain his administration’s five-year plan for improving it infrastructure. He described it as a “capital improvement plan.”
“It’s all about the needs of the city,” Reeves.
The meeting gave him the opportunity to outline a plan he and city supervisors came up with and for council members to add their suggestions although none did.
They did, though, pay careful attention to what was included in the plan and the cost of each of its facets.
Reeves told councilmen to add any other items they felt needed attention in their districts and said he planned to ask for a vote on the entire plan at its August meeting.
“I gave them the opportunity because I’m going to ask them to approve the plan at our next meeting,” he said.
Topping the list of priorities as the mayor ranked them were improvements to the city’s water plant.
“Our number one priority – and everyone agreed to this – is our water plant,” Reeves said.
He said the city presently gets its water from two wells in Port Allen that are piped into Plaquemine, but growth north of the city is beginning to put a strain on that supply.
The mayor said three new subdivisions the mayor expects to begin construction are going to add additional water needs.
Reeves explained the City of Plaquemine has three wells of its own but lacks the filtration system it needs to make the water they produce potable.
“We have an adequate supply of water and we have the pumping capacity, but what we don’t have is the filtration capacity,” he said.
A printed and detailed copy of the five-year plan says the project would cost about $2.5 million and take a year to complete. Funding would come, the plan reads, from U.S. Department of Agriculture grants and loans, “but we’re looking at all funding sources,” Reeves added.
In an interview, Reeves said he would like the filtration project to be done by the end of this year or early next year. “It’s just that important,” he said.
“I’m ready to get moving on that project because it’s a high priority,” Reeves said. “It’s good for the city and it’s good for our people.”
Another high priority described in the plan is to install permanent restroom facilities in all of the city’s parks.
Even the city’s showplace park, the Mark A. Gulotta Water Park near the Plaquemine Lock has no brick-and-mortar restroom facilities, instead dependent on three port-a-potties for visitors.
Reeves said the original plan for the park called for permanent restrooms but they were never constructed. While he’s not sure why, he suspects it was a lack of funding.
He also talked specifically about two other city parks lacking permanent restroom facilities, the Herman Graham Park and the North Plaquemine Park.
There is a building at Herman Graham that had served as its restrooms but the building has long since fallen into disrepair, Reeves said. His five-year plan calls for the building to be renovated into a unisex restroom because “the building is big enough and can be made handicapped accessible.”
Other projects falling into the city’s long-range plans include improvements to the sewer lift stations, a “refurbishment,” the printed plan calls it and the “hardening” of the city’s electrical system.
The City of Plaquemine has 32 sewer lift stations, the mayor said.
“Those pumping stations are critical to the infrastructure of the City of Plaquemine because we certainly don’t want sewer backing up into people’s homes,” Reeves said.
The primary problem with the city’s electrical system is the age and the ensuing wear and tear of utility poles, some of which have been in use for as long as 50 years, the mayor said.
The sewer lift station refurbishment plan is expected to cost the city about $1.3 million while the electrical system improvements are estimated to cost about $1.4 million.
The proposed five-year plan is comprehensive and will require millions to complete, but Reeves is confident it can be accomplished.
“I want to see it all done next year if the money can be found,” Reeves said, but acknowledged the nearly impossible challenge of funding all of the projects.
(Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of articles on the city’s proposed five-year capital improvement plan, in large part due to its comprehensiveness and the need to describe each one in some detail and provide the city’s residents with an estimate of the cost of the entire plan.)