Documenter name: Natalie McLendon
Agency holding meeting: Westlake City Council
Date: Monday, April 17, 2023
The city adopted numerous ordinances and prepared for the summer feeding program.
The city council chamber was full of regular attendees. Calcasieu Parish Police Juror Randy Burleigh was in attendance. All city council members were present. Through Louisiana’s Lawrason Act, the city of Westlake operates with a five person elected council. A number of individuals spoke or were recognized at the beginning of the meeting.
Appointments and announcements
Rick Johnston with the nonprofit organization, Progress with Parkinsons, spoke to the council about his experience with Parkinson’s Disease after being diagnosed in 2018. “For two years, I denied it, hated it, wanted to die, didn’t know what to do, and did not have the energy, but I decided to fight it,” he said. Johnston’s organization is working to provide one service dog per year to those with Parkinsons. They offer training classes for exercise and nutrition, and provide monthly support group meetings. Johnston is also an ambassador for the Davis Phinney Foundation.
Rhonda Cupit has been appointed to the Sabine River Authority as the Calcasieu Parish representative. Regarding her appointment, she said “It’s an honor. It’s the seat my husband was in, so it’s a legacy. I hope to do it with pride like he did.”
Bill Cutrera, candidate for judge in the 14th Judicial District Family and Juvenile Court Division C, spoke to the council and general public about his campaign. This position was previously held by Judge Guy Bradberry, who was recently elected to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. Cutrera is running to fill the remainder of Bradberry’s three year term. A Southern University graduate, Cutrera has been a practicing attorney for 36 years, with a focus on family law. The election is October 14.
Westlake High School Girls Basketball Team were given certificates of appreciation for playing until the quarter final round against Union Parish.
The council approved the minutes from the March meeting.
A resolution to appoint Bobby Letard for the Board of Directors of the West Calcasieu Parish Community Center Authority was passed unanimously without any discussion.
The city heard from the property owner and two neighbors regarding an exception to a moratorium to allow a mobile home to be placed at 700 Westlake Avenue (Northeast corner of Westlake Avenue and Gray Street).
Jamie Carter, property owner, says she has had a mobile home on the property since 2003. Hurricane Laura damaged the home, and Hurricane Delta caused further damage. Carter says she quickly removed the damaged mobile home so as not to cause a blighted property in the city.
Westlake resident Angie McBride is opposed to the Carters bringing in a mobile home, claiming that the owners have not taken care of the property in the past. “The council has already put a moratorium in place and I believe it should be upheld. Investors have proven in the past that they are not interested in the neighborhood or the city of Westlake. Investors need to be held to a higher standard inside the city limit,” McBride said. She also alleged that there is an open septic tank on the property.
“The investors are not taking care of the property. There are collapsed commercial buildings, collapsed houses, the council should really be ashamed of this area and I hope that each of you will do a better job for the city of Westlake by rejecting this,” McBride said.
Resident Cory Cochran also thinks the moratorium should be upheld. Cochran said putting a trailer there in an area that needs to be cleaned up already is “not a step in the right direction.”
Recently elected Mayor Hal McMillan says he will be looking for a code enforcement officer after the budget has been reviewed, “Blighted property in Westlake is number one on my list. We’re going to clean up blighted properties in Westlake. An open septic tank is a health hazard.”
Councilman Brown says he believes the property needs to be cleaned up and that the council should rezone this area as commercial property.
Ms. Carter countered that she received an email from city secretary Andrea Mahfouz from October 22, 2021, stating that the septic tank has been covered. Carter also alleged that the lawn is always maintained.
Councilman Cryer said his issue is the moratorium itself. As long as there is a moratorium in place, he cannot vote for an exception. After putting it to a council vote, the moratorium will stand.
The city also passed a resolution that will allow Mayor McMillin to enter into a cooperative endeavor agreement between the city and the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury for financial assistance for up to $30,000 for new laptops for the Westlake police department. The laptops that police previously used were more than seven years old.
The council unanimously approved a resolution to accept the John Stine Road paving improvements project.
Updates on City Projects
The city is working on Garfield drainage. They cannot run a large pipe through the pipelines. They have a new storage unit that’s been built, but has “zero detention time.” The city engineer says it may be time to adopt an ordinance similar to Sulphur and Lake Charles to have at least a 25 year storm detention time. “If we don’t do something for these communities, we’re going to have a lot of flooding,” he said. “You think you’ve had flooding on Mulberry, just wait until the next phase of storms, you won’t be going down Mulberry Street.”
The sanitary sewer equalization system needs $7.5 million to be built, the city engineer says, and emphasized that Louisiana House Bill 2 will address this. If they do not get the funding, then he and the mayor will make a trip to Baton Rouge.
Mr. Myers continues, stating that the Jones street water plant has been funded by a grant from the state. The Louisiana Department of Health wants to do a study on water rates. Mayor McMillin responds that Louisiana Rural Water will have results ready on their rate study at the end of the month.
The Pinederosa parkway project to provide a three lane road is currently being reviewed by the metropolitan planning commission.
Mr. King says he is working on economic development by Horseshoe Casino, which includes hotels, shops, restaurants, a boardwalk, and an amusement park. There will be a presentation at next month’s city council meeting regarding the development plan.
Louisiana First Responders Christian Association honored the Westlake Fire Department Special Operations Team for their recent bridge rescue.
The next regular council meeting is Monday, May 15, 2023.
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