A group of prospective business owners and investors came to the monthly Police Jury meeting in order to reach out to them about some concerns they had about the properties infrastructure and to see if they could help contribute to seeing some of these improvements being made.
When explaining to the Jury why he wanted them to come and speak, Dist. 8 Juror Nick Cox stated. “The number one reason is the road, but the number 2 reason I wanted them to come, and we put it under the economic committee, is because there’s a lot of good things going on in our parish out there off of Goodwill Road. So I thought it would be a good opportunity for them to tell us what all is going on out there,” said Cox.
Craig Watson, owner of Impressions Advertising Specialties, was the main one representing the groups concerns to the Jury. When it came to the concern of the road, Watson stated that part of the problem was trying to find out who owns it. “The road is far worse than anything I’ve been on in Webster Parish. I reached out to the state, and after lengthy conversations, the state says they don’t own it,” said Watson.
“I really don’t know who owns it. It may be that we all own it and don’t know it, it may be the land owner that we bought it from owns it, and it may be the state.”
Watson stated that the state has marker’s out there and has the property mowed and maintained.
Another interested business owner stated, “We’re going to need a good road because people aren’t going to want to come down through there and dodge potholes to come access businesses for us to thrive in that area.”
Dist. 3 Juror Daniel Thomas stated that an avenue to potentially getting the road fixed was to contact local representatives Wayne McMahen and Robert Mills, as they play a large role in the allocation of resources for the parish.
“Teddy has a real good relationship with the state, and he’s saying that they’re going to have somebody higher up to give them money to improve that road. So if I were you guys, I’d call Dr. Wayne McMahen and I’d get them out there,” said Thomas.
Watson stated that he had already contacted these representatives, and that they gave him an estimate of 3-8 years for the road to be completed. Part of his reason for coming before the Police Jury was to expedite that process.
“I have spoken to both of those guys, and what they’re telling me now is that at best 3 years, maybe as long as 8 years by the time it goes through appropriations… so it’s not very promising, and that’s going to be the very thing that stifles this. It’s happening now, and we don’t need to be waiting around and let it wither on the vine,” said Watson.
He encouraged the Jurors to contact the representatives as well, saying that the more people that speak up and show interest in the area, the more likely they are to see results sooner.
“The louder we holler, the better chances are we’re going to get it. If it’s just us four or five people right here, it’s gonna fall on deaf ears,” said Watson.
A concern that was brought up during the discussion was that of fire safety. Brian Williams pointed out that there is not a water system that reaches out there, and the private ones that the businesses are planning wouldn’t be enough to handle the businesses in case of emergency.
“As you increase property taxes, everybody in that district, their fire insurance is going to escalate dramatically, because we cannot protect this. The water system in place can not protect this,” said Williams.
“We need a water system that can handle all the businesses with additional fire plugs in there, because if not, you may increase the property value and the property taxes, but everybody with fire insurance is going to escalate in this area because the water systems, with everyone doing their own, is not going to help this.”
Even with these concerns being brought up, the Jury seems eager to try and find a solution. Police Jury President Jim Bonsall himself stated that addressing infrastructure needs to accommodate that growing area of the parish has been an on-again-off-again subject for as long as he’s been on the Jury. “We’ve gotta figure this out. We’ve talked about this on and off for fourteen. I’ve been on the Jury for fourteen years and that’s all we ever do is talk about it. We’ve got to fix this thing.”
While there were many concerns regarding the expenses of potentially expanding infrastructure, it seemed as though Bonsall sees the growth of that area as inevitable, and thus should be addressed sooner rather than later.
Bonsall stated, “I do believe that this is spilling over from Bossier Parish, and I believe that it is going to grow, and I believe that it is going to create some good opportunities, but it is going to create a lot of expense. We need to get this deal fixed and we need to figure out how we’re going to address it, and we need to do that right now. Before we got five miles of roads that people have got businesses looking at us to fix their infrastructure.”