After wringing their hands for three years over how to repair the damaged and failing town branch, the Louisiana City Council concluded Monday, Oct. 7 that it already has the legal authority to act.
That wasn’t clear after the stream that meanders through town was severely damaged in the flash flood of July 2010.
At that point and to this day, the city was led to believe by federal officials that the ownership of the branch is unclear and needed to be established in order to work on it or get federal funds to fix it.
However, a simple statement at the council meeting by City Administrator Bob Jenne appears to have eliminated the problem.
“There is a state statute that says we can repair a waterway,” Jenne said. “We have the authority to go in on the properties now.”
City officials have wanted to clean up the branch for aesthetic reasons and to improve the flow before another flood caused further damage to homes and businesses along it.
There are six spots along the branch that need immediate attention, where stone walls put in during the 1930s have fallen or the bank has severely eroded.
Mayor Tom Wallace said he has spoken with several landowners adjacent to the branch, who simply want the problem areas fixed.
Louisiana Housing Authority official Rev. Randall Cone told the council the group would not stand in the way of letting the city fix the caved-in area next to its Seventh Street apartments.
City Attorney Robert Rapp said the alternative of establishing city ownership of the branch by obtaining deeds or easements from property owners would be expensive and probably take years. He suggested the city simply get written agreements from branch-adjacent property owners to cover liability.
Councilman Bart Niedner said he would like to budget branch work during the annual budget review in December or for the 2014-2015 budget.
“If we don’t get something done, it could get worse,” said Councilman Larry White.