Marydale residents gathered at a meeting organized by District 1 Parish Councilman Jerry Jones had plenty to say Thursday night about the problems plaguing their neighborhood.
Around 30 residents met at the Marydale Head Start Center to discuss their concerns over inadequate water lines, sewerage systems and police protection in the area.
The meeting alternated between public forum and political lashing – interspersed with frequent criticisms of Parish President Gerald “Buzz” Breaux’s policies – with several in attendance encouraging increased turnout at the council meetings and at the polls.
Tyrone Williams, running against Jones for the District 1 Parish Council seat, pressed the councilman on a variety of issues and questioned his commitment to council unity. Jones repeatedly justified his position as a member of the so-called “Council Five,” a five-member majority that has consistently voted together and against the policies and proposals of Breaux, as the only way to get anything accomplished for District 1.
“It takes five votes to get what you want on the council … If we go with the other four, they’ll probably send us back to Africa,” Jones responded to one of William’s accusations.
The councilman said he makes no apologies for putting the needs of District 1 before the other districts of the parish.
But, Williams said, “You’ve gotta work for everybody … not just Marydale, everybody.
“I want to know why you had the meeting today at the last minute when election time’s coming up,” he added.
Jones said he has tried to hold a similar meeting every year, but last year’s June 28 meeting had poor attendance due to rain. He added he hopes to establish quarterly meetings.
A major concern of neighborhood residents was that of safety. One man described an incident in which someone ran through his yard and shot at his truck. “My kid was in the living room … They could have shot him,” the man said.
Alma Owens Douglas, a representative from the Sheriff’s Office, helped sign up community members for a neighborhood watch program. The program is set to include police patrols of the area and is the first of its kind, Jones said.
Residents also complained of leaking sewer and water lines. “I have sewage running in my ditch,” Marydale resident Rose Woods said.
Anthony Oncale, of David Heck’s engineering firm, said a new proposal for a sewer system rehab in Marydale is in the works, following the rejection of funding from the Louisiana Community Development Block Grant program – which provides money to help low- to moderate-income neighborhoods – for a $996,000 proposal in 2015 and designed in conjunction with South Central Planning and Development.
Oncale and Jones said grant money is necessary to finance neighborhood water sewerage and water improvements after Parish President Gerald “Buzz” Breaux vetoed ordinance 3009, which included a provision for $250,000 for Marydale waterline improvements. Jones also cited ordinance 3010 – which is among those recently deemed improper by District Attorney Camille A. “Cam” Morvant – that would have authorized Heck’s firm to begin a sewerage improvement project.
Ordinance 3010 was resubmitted for publication along with other voided ordinances at the last meeting of the Lafourche Parish Council. It must now go back through the ratification process and could be vetoed by Breaux.
“The money was there, the president vetoed it,” Jones said.
However, a new proposal is in the works, Oncale said, with the help of Bordelon, Foreman and Associates. “In (the initial) one we went for a Cadillac. We’re gonna try for a Chevrolet this time and hope we get the money,” he said.
The original 1997 water improvement plan was also rejected by the LCDBG program.
Marydale’s water supply system got attention last week when St. John’s Volunteer Fire Department had to truck in extra water to put out a blaze in the 300 block of Carol Street. The neighborhood lacks water hydrants and water pipe lines are too small in diameter, some residents said.
“The type of pressure they had … I could’ve done that with the house from my house,” one resident said.
“I’ve learned a lot,” Woods said after the meeting. “I look forward to meeting like this again … In order for you to know something, you’ve got to come out.”