Documenter name: Natalie McLendon

Agency holding meeting: Westlake City Council

Date: Monday, September 19, 2022

Summary

The Westlake City Council met on Monday, September 19 to vote on resolutions, get updates on city projects, and hear about the Westlake Fire Department’s most recent rescue success.

The Scene

When I arrived at 5:01 PM, there were about six other people in the room. When more folks entered, they seemed to know many people in the audience. Hal McMillan, mayoral candidate, and Michael Bergeron, Councilman for Seat C, both introduced themselves to me before the meeting began. McMillan told me he thought it was great that our Journal was here and asked if we would be filming every meeting. He said that when he is elected mayor, he will advocate for greater transparency. He gave me a business card. By the time the meeting began, the room was mostly full. 

Community Perspective

Members of the public did not provide commentary on any agenda items.

Notes

(03:00 on video) Dr. Cathy Denison-Robert is on the agenda and introduced herself to the council at the beginning of the meeting. She says she and her husband live on the golf course. Denison-Robert started a nonprofit meant to help those impacted by the devastation of hurricanes. The United Way funded her nonprofit, Business and Workforce Recovery Solutions, and impacted parties may be eligible for free case management. She would also like to help the city bring in more grant funds.

Policies and Decisions

  • The Council approved a resolution requesting financial assistance from the state of Louisiana under the fiscal year 2022-2023 Local Government Assistance Program (LGAP). Under this program, the city is eligible for a grant up to $50,000 for use with “fire protection, sewer, water, renovations to essential governmental buildings, police protection, land acquisition, demolition, equipment, roads, drainage, and reasonable engineering costs.” No one commented on this issue.
  • The Council also approved a resolution requesting financial assistance from the state of Louisiana under the fiscal year 2022-2023 Community Water Enrichment Fund (CWEF), which will make the city eligible for an additional grant worth up to $50,000. The CWEF was created during the 2008 legislative session. According to the Louisiana Division of Administration, “its intent is to provide a source of funding to aid units of local government solely for the purpose of rehabilitation, improvement, and construction projects for community water systems to provide safe and clean drinking water.” No one commented on this issue.
  • Daniel W. Racca, interim mayor of Westlake, opted the city out of the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness temporary housing and shelter assistance program.
  • There was unanimous approval to accept and award a bid for the remediation, abatement, stabilization and temporary facility work for the city’s impacted facilities from hurricanes Laura and Delta to Ratcliff Construction, a company from Alexandria. They have previously worked on a large municipal disaster recovery project in Sulphur at a total cost of $1,966,492, according to the bid packet attached to the agenda. The bid amount for the Westlake project was not published. Instead, the city used a rating system for two proposals and Ratliff Construction had the higher score. Ratliff’s bid proposal for this project included rate lists, but I was unable to locate the exact bid amount within the proposal.
  • The city entered into an agreement with GoGov, Inc. for Citizen Request Management (CRM), citizen notifications & alerts, and code enforcement case management. The cost of a subscription for these services totals approximately $10,000.
  • Council went into Executive Session to discuss Todd Mathis vs. City of Westlake, No. 2022-3603 at approximately 5:46 PM and returned at 6:06 PM. They then made a motion for the city attorney to “move forward with Todd Mathis.” Mathis filed a lawsuit against the city after he was allegedly no longer allowed to patronize the public golf course.

Updates on city projects

There were several updates on infrastructure projects throughout the city. 

  • The city received a grant in 2021 for $250,000 for procurement of drainage pipe. All pipes have been delivered. They don’t have the final correct invoice at this point but they have to close it out before December. The pipe is laid out and the city should be covering it to protect the plastic from ultraviolet rays.
  • An upcoming sewer project meant to accommodate future growth will cost an estimated $7.5 million. The city currently has “$5 million lined up.” They received approval from the water sector for an extension on the specifications and plans until January 3, 2023. The city will “come up with a couple more million bucks.”
  • Compressed natural gas project has $500,000 that needs to be amended. This was a problem with communications between senators. 
  • Jones Street ground storage water tank upgrade plans were approved by the Department of Health. A rate study of the city water system needs to be completed. A separate $500,000 grant will help. The project has been “held up by, probably, manpower if you want to know the truth.”
  • The Ponderosa Parkway project is the road that goes from National Drive to Howell Street, immediately west of the water park. This design will facilitate multiple traffic demands. The estimated cost for this project is about $7 million. The city thinks it can be fully funded without Westlake paying anything.
  • The Fire Department has been working on a special operations team, which was recognized during the meeting. The city previously approved the purchase of a boat. Firemen trained with the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office as well as the Lafayette Police Department. On September 15th, they received a call that someone had jumped into the water from the I-10 bridge. The fire department immediately mobilized and did a search. They were able to locate the jumper, who was just under the surface, and were able to rescue him and get him transported to the hospital. The unnamed male survived the jump. Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies also mobilized. The total time between the report of the jump and transport to the hospital was about 30 minutes.

Follow-up questions

  1. Why did the city council opt out of the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness temporary housing and shelter assistance program?
  2. What compressed natural gas project had a $500,000 error?

Video 

YouTube Poster