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Story Archives: West Monroe in line for $7.6 million in state funding for Sparta project
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|West Monroe in line for $7.6 million in state funding for Sparta project|
The City of West Monroe will receive some $7.6 million in capital outlay funding for the city's Sparta Aquifer rehabilitation project if legislators approve Gov. Bobby Jindal's proposed budget for the 2008-09 fiscal year.
West Monroe Mayor Dave Norris delivered that news to the West Monroe Board of Aldermen Tuesday at its regular meeting.
Norris said the $7.6 million represented the first installment of a commitment Jindal made to provide state funding for the Sparta project, which is currently in the planning stages. According to Norris, Jindal pledged to steer state funding to the project over a three-year period.
Norris met with Jindal about the Sparta project prior to the governor taking office in January. Norris also met with Stephen Moret on the matter. Moret serves as secretary of the Louisiana Economic Development Corp.
"The governor was knowledgeable about the project," Norris said. "He asked many questions, and he showed us he truly wanted to help."
"Likewise for the secretary (Moret)," Norris said. "He was very knowledgeable, and he, too, showed us he was fully aware of how important the Sparta project is on many fronts, including economic development."
Sen. Bob Kostelka of Monroe and Rep. Jim Fannin of Jonesboro arranged the meetings with Jindal and Moret, Norris said.
If the capital outlay bill is approved by the Legislature, Norris said officials would move forward with a plan to construct a wastewater treatment facility near Lazarre Park in West Monroe.
The initial capital outlay funding would be used to pay for dirt work, construct a pipeline and to build an operations building at the treatment facility. The money also would pay for engineering work.
Water treated by the facility would be pumped Graphic Packaging's plant in West Monroe. Graphic would use the treated water to help mitigate the 10 million gallons per day the plant currently draws from the Sparta.
Norris said the total cost of the Sparta project was projected to be almost $12 million, but he noted that $12 million was far less than the $200 million officials predicted in 2000.
Once up and running, the wastewater treatment facility is expected to process some eight million gallons of wastewater per day for use at Graphic's mill.
In other business at the board of aldermen's meeting Tuesday, aldermen approved bids to rehabilitate a number of water towers throughout the city, including the main tower near the West Monroe Farmer's Market.
Utility Service Inc. of Perry, Ga., was awarded a contract to strip and paint the interiors and exteriors of the city's seven water towers.
Utility Service bid $649,000 for the contract. The only other bidder, a Baton Rouge firm, bid more than $1.1 million for the job.
Aldermen also approved the purchase of one of the last empty lots in West Monroe's historic downtown district from local builder Steve Hall.
Norris told aldermen the lot, which lies along the sea wall on Cotton Street, was valued between $160,000 and $170,000. The city agreed to buy the land for $160,000.
"I think there is a real opportunity for us to buy that lot and for the time being just to sit on it and see what happens in that area," Norris said.
Norris envisioned eventually using the space as a public space, such as a park or boardwalk.
Norris said the number of people living in the downtown area had increased recently and the number of apartments in downtown was expected to grow by another 100 in the next year or so.
"There is a lot of activity downtown," Norris said. "It's clean and it's nice and I'd like to have that lot."
(Sam Hanna Jr., publisher of The Ouachita Citizen, contributed to this report.)