Documenter name: Natalie McLendon
Agency holding meeting: Westlake City Council
Date: Monday, October 17, 2022
The council had a full agenda, including a presentation on an app from Entergy to report street light outages and more home condemnations.
I arrived at 5:00 PM, but the doors were locked. The meeting usually begins at 5:30, so this was understandable. I stood outside with a few others until the door was unlocked for us. Conversation ensued as soon as the room began filling in. I saw many of the same faces of folks who had attended the September meeting. A reporter from the American Press was present.
Before the start of the meeting, interim Mayor Daniel Racca recognized the passing of former Westlake Mayor Dan Cupit, and said the city will memorialize Cupit by flying the flag at half mast from Monday until Wednesday. Cupit was also a councilman and had a long military career. He taught and coached in the lake area. Cupit was 82 when he passed away. Visitation is at 11 AM Wednesday at Hixson Funeral Home in Lake Charles, and Cupit’s funeral will take place at 3 PM.
Citizens in the Audience
Westlake High School Ag Students Gracie Evans and Jamira Guillory were on the agenda to be recognized for being in the Top 10 at National FFA Agriscience Fair. They were unable to make it to the meeting, so they will be recognized next month instead.
David Duplichain of the Victim Advocate Program gave an update. The Victim Advocate Program was started by the Family & Youth Counseling Agency in 2016. This is a public-private partnership wherein the Victim Advocate Program pays for a victim advocate to sit in at police stations in southwest Louisiana to help with victim services. “Our goal was to improve services to victims, free detectives up to do police work, and improve relationships between police departments and the communities they serve,” Duplichain said. Since January 2017, there has been a victim advocate in Westlake, but there has not been enough crime to justify a full-time victim advocate.
Calvin Thibodeaux and Erica Martin from Entergy were also on the agenda to present on the My Entergy app and street light outage reporting. Thibodeaux said Martin will be the account manager for the City of Westlake.
Martin informs the public that there is a My Entergy app that can be used to report outages and manage accounts. This app is GPS enabled and therefore tracks your route of travel. Thibodeaux says he once counted 30 lights out in 15 minutes during heavy traffic. You can add comments as well, if needed.
Rita Lebleu of the American Press asked if Entergy would be tying it to a sweepstakes. Thibodeaux says this process used to be managed with emails between Entergy and the City. There is a higher response time with the app. You do not have to be an Entergy user to download the app to report, view, and track outages.
The Council approved last month’s meeting minutes as well as approval of two ordinances. Ordinance 1007 approved a rezoning of property on 1416 McKinley Street from a single family dwelling to a multi-family residence. Ordinance 1008 approved a variance for a salon to be next to a home on 1016 Pullman Street.
There was no additional public comment other than Westlake resident Jonathan Walker, whose concerns are indicated within the Resolutions section.
The city council approved a beer and liquor license to 7 Seven Enterprises, LLC on 100 Westlake Avenue, inside Horseshoe Casino. They then approved Ordinance 1011, which will expand the Economic Development District (EDD) to include the Horseshoe Casino. The property was previously Isle of Capri Casino and is expected to open this year.
The next agenda item was a public hearing on the condemnation and demolition of 1021 Live Oak Street. There was no public comment on this issue. The city therefore approved this ordinance (1009). This property will be condemned and the demolition costs will be recorded in the mortgage records at Calcasieu Parish Clerk of Court as a lien against the property.
The city enacted Ordinance 1010, which approved abandonment of a portion of Greenroad Street from Continental Boulevard to Tillman Street. Councilman Bergeron questioned if they would need to barricade a portion of the street behind the old Pentecostal Church. The church is asking to expand for safety reasons. Bergeron also questioned how they would limit traffic across the street. The mayor states that this would be the responsibility of the church. The city then renamed this portion “Caraway Street,” after Caraway’s Pharmacy, established in 1971. The name change will be effective as of December 1, 2022.
Resolution 3630 authorized Interim Mayor Racca to enter into a right of way agreement with Entergy Louisiana. This is a renewal of a previous agreement regarding a property at Hilma Street and Continental Boulevard.
Resolution 3631 authorized Interim Mayor Racca to execute and approve Change Order No. 4 for John Stine Road (Myrtle Springs to Foster). According to the change order report, this project will turn a two-lane road into a three-lane road and install subsurface drainage. The change order adjusts the amount of yard drain pipe by 112%, or $1,890.
The city unanimously approved a moratorium on manufactured homes in the area between Sampson Street East to the Calcasieu River and Sulphur Avenue South to Isle of Capri Blvd.
There was some discussion between council members and the city finance director over the buyout of the temporary clubhouse from VESTA modular. The finance director made an offer to buy at $47,000. They got $36,000 from insurance, but would have to repair and move the modular building. If they did not purchase the modular building, it would have been shipped back to Florida, which would be prohibitively expensive. This motion was approved.
The council changed the speed limit for the West Trace community (everywhere in the community except for National, Dudley Dixon, and Pelican Drive) to 15 miles per hour. Jonathan Walker spoke against assigning Augusta Way this speed limit. Councilman Brown states that other residents on Augusta Way spoke to him asking to keep it slower on this road out of a need for safety for their children. Walker states he wants to get a petition to get the speed limit back to 25. He says there is plenty of room on this street. Councilman Bergeron questions the process for this petition. Councilman Brown says to leave it like it already is, and amend it when Walker comes back with a petition.
At 6:00 PM, the council then went into Executive Session with Chief Chris Wilrye for “a Personnel matter.” The council went back into regular session at 6:03 PM and approved the recommended action.
The Executive Session continued at 6:04 PM with discussion regarding City of Westlake; National Golf Club of Louisiana, Inc.; Westlake Volunteer Fire Department; and Westlake Fire Department Vs. Republic Fire and Casualty Insurance Company; National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, PA; and Starr Surplus Lines Insurance Company. 14th Judicial District Court No.: 2022-4044H. They returned at 6:11.
Update on City Projects
- As far as projects under construction, many of them are wrapping up.
- The John Stine Project is almost complete.
- Sanitary Sewer extension is complete.
- Hole 5 drainage improvements are under construction. They have staked the property but have not yet started clearing the field.
Monthly work order report for all Departments
- Police Department
- There were over 5,000 calls for service during the month of September.
- Halloween will be on the 31st from 5:30pm to 8pm.
- Fire Department
- There were 87 calls for service last month.
- This report is from September 12 and includes Old Business in which Fire Chief Jonathan Duff states he met with Calcasieu Parish Police Juror Randy Burleigh regarding damages from an explosion at Sasol. Burleigh met with Sasol and they discussed “donating some land for a new Fire Station.”
Bergeron invites everyone in the audience to attend the Westlake Fall Festival on October 30 from 4pm to 7pm. This is a free event.
Why did the council place a moratorium on manufactured homes in a specified area?
In an email City Clerk Andrea Mahfouz said: “The goal of the moratorium is to use the one year to get a good legal description of the area that they do not want to have mobile homes. Once the legal description is done, the official mobile home area will be changed.”