Many accolades to the City of Franklin for providing a much-needed makeover to the pavilion at Parc sur la Teche. The sign on the structure has been removed, assumedly for painting, and I’m seeing quite a bit of activity around it including carpentry. We’ll put our best face forward for the Bear Festival in just a few weeks!

Mayor Raymond Harris let the cat out of the bag at last week’s meeting of the Historic District Commission that he’s considering forming a bayouside rejuvenation panel. The mayor’s idea gets a loud applause from yours truly. That’s the kind of thinking we need around here, and it may seem small, but doing nothing is small as you can get.

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I’m told that the parish plans to leave that scrap heap of a chain link and barbed wire fence around the ramp at the former Blevins Building until the ramp is removed.

I was also reminded that the parish did restore and improve the Blevins Building itself, as well as Walter’s next door, and that’s marvelous! Bravo! Bravo! I don’t want to take anything away from that, job well done, honestly. But all those good works just make it even harder for me to believe that the same folks would leave that gnarly old rust hazard of a fence standing after doing so many other great deeds.

While I absolutely understand the reluctance to remove and replace that fence if it won’t be needed anyway after the ramp is removed, I have to add this caveat: If you’re talking about doing all this in a month, that’s great! If you’re talking about three months, well, grumble-grumble, but if that’s a promise, okay, then. If you’re talking about fall or winter or next year, then that’s not acceptable at all. Put something better looking around it if it’s going to take that long.

I’ve been covering local government longer than most everyone up there has been in government, I know how government tends to get lost in its own processes, or at worst, lax when the heat is off. Rest assured, the heat is not off. Many of us care about what downtown – and beyond – looks like. It needs taking care of very soon. If the city’s fixing up the pavilion on the bayouside, and maybe the bayouside itself, and taking a very big bull by very big horns to do something with the Center Theater property, parish government – with all its considerable resources and abilities – ought to be encouraged to do likewise.

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Speaking of the Center Theater property, bravo again.

Architects Jim Firmin and Fred Dugas presented a stunning conceptual view of what could be done with the Center Theater property at the last Historic District Commission meeting. Well done, gentlemen (sorry for being so grumpy about y’all taking my spot for your projection screen, us old curmudgeons don’t cotton to change well!)

The Center is no less an eye sore than that dastardly fence I was just talking about, and it’s way bigger. I’m the first to be a proponent of historic preservation, but that monster has got to go.

Certainly, an $800,000 project to build a wonderful, two-story public space there is ambitious, but you know, it’s not unreasonable, and ambition is the impetus of accomplishment. Combined with the improvements to Parc sur la Teche, we could really have something even more special downtown. I’m behind it completely, if we can get it done in a timely manner of just a couple or so years.

Well done!

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You’ll note that the Amelia Belle riverboat is still not open.

That’s since February, right?

Latest news is April 18, and then, I hear mutterings there’s some doubts about that.

It would seem that with so much hinging on the opening and prosperity of that boat – to the tune of $1.5 million for the parish coffers – somebody would be lighting a fire on their behinds to open the doors.

I wonder if they’ll be as reliable in their day-to-day-operations as they have been pre-opening?

It appears to also be finally dawning on parish government that the $1.5 million currently pledged by the Chitimacha Tribe is going to dissipate by year’s end. Some even seem surprised by that. Odd. You’d think that no good deed goes unpunished.

As it happens, tribal sentiment is feeling very unhappy right now. Some of us are proponents of a departure from the norm, rather than a departure of entirety.

If, when you consider the original purpose of revenue sharing was to offset the effects of our gaming operations in terms of police, fire protection, etc., it makes no sense at all that Morgan City, Berwick and Patterson received revenue sharing but Jeanerette does not. Jeanerette surely has more impact from our operations than the folks way over there across the river.

Now, those of us who are a little less sentimental about it are encouraging a reformulation. It would in fact make more sense that the sheriff’s office on the west end of the parish, Franklin, Baldwin and Jeanerette receive these funds for gaming mitigation, as originally intended.

I’m not a tribal official, of course, and I’m just one voice among many, but that’s how I’d like to see it play out, and how I plan on encouraging things to go when the current agreement expires. Certainly, the sheriff’s office and Franklin and Baldwin officials have played square with us, and I do not wish to see them slighted due to the actions of those who didn’t.

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Kind of a rhetorical question, really, but doesn’t it seem like we’ve gone back in time 25 or so years and the east end of the parish is running the whole shootin’ match now?

Just sayin’.

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Which, in closing, leads me to consider: If Chitimacha money dissipates, and that riverboat never gets its gangplank down, or doesn’t do the business it’s guaranteeing it’ll do, it’s a good thing sales tax collections are booming, ain’t it?