A few quick notes, then we’ll let sleeping dogs lie for a time.
The agenda for this month’s Louisiana Gaming Control Board meeting is out. Swapping the Amelia Belle riverboat with the Baton Rouge boat is, once again, not on the agenda.
The Louisiana Bond Commission was kind enough to do some research for me and reported that there have been five Gulf Opportunity Zone (GoZone) applications from St. Mary Parish:
– Industrial Development Board of the Parish of St. Mary, Louisiana, Inc., (Highway 90 Morgan City Acquisition, LLC Project) - Not exceeding $3,000,000 Tax-Exempt Economic Development Bonds, financing the cost of acquiring an existing building and land located at 1106 Brashear Avenue, Morgan City, Louisiana and construction of improvements necessary to convert the building to an automotive sales and service center. Note: This application was withdrawn after preliminary approval.
– $2.5 million in GO Zone bonds for the Industrial Development Board of the Parish of St. Mary, State of Louisiana, Inc. (Five Star Fuels, LLC Project) for the construction of a fuel storage terminal on the Charenton Canal and for the construction of bulkheading, access roads, a parking area and a small office building. This was issued.
– Diversified Enviro Products and Services, $2.5 million, for a fabrication building. Also withdrawn.
– Industrial Development Board of the Parish of St. Mary (Aaryan Hospitality, LLC Project) - Not exceeding $7,000,000 Revenue Bonds, acquiring approximately 2.2 acres of land and the construction thereon of an 84 room Hampton Inn to be located in downtown Morgan City. Note: This application was withdrawn.
– CLECO, $18 million, for a multi-parish, St. Mary included, distribution and transmission rebuild.
While it’s easy to appreciate the parish’s involvement – in whatever capacity – to secure funding for business, noting one issued funding and one just-approved (Cleco) to three withdrawn is rather discouraging.
The GoZone program in this area ends the last day of 2008. It’s pretty much all over but the cryin’ now.
City council members and the mayor appear undecided on what is best for the derelict – the measure of that description as yet unfathomed – Center Theater building downtown.
Historic District Commission Chairman Judith Allain is encouraging the council to conduct an independent engineering study of the structure to determine if the façade can be saved, as would be ideal for historic preservation of the downtown streetscape, Allain says.
The mayor and council are worried that an engineering declaration that the building is salvagable – in whole or in part – will impede their ability to secure funding for their plans for a multi-floor open-air plaza linking Main Street with the bayou side.
Both arguments have equal merits.
It was repeatedly said that there needs to be further dialogue before a decision is made to enlist a new study. Or not.
There is no doubt that dialogue should be held in public session. While the city owns the Center Theater, the streetscape and the final disposition of that building are a public possession and concern. It would greatly betray the public trust if, at some council meeting to come, a decision was suddenly rendered out of thin air and the door shut.
But the city fathers need to be very, very careful to not show a blatant disregard for its own laws. It will set a dangerous and destructive precedent if the council overrules the historic district’s decision, if it is rendered against the façade destruction, and does whatever it wants to do. Such action will send the message that the council is above its own laws, and that, in the end, laws such as historic district regulation and zoning are meaningless and, the public will perceive, should be eradicated.
The state House of Representatives has passed a measure that if it becomes law will hike your auto insurance rates.
Yup. Good government runs rampant these days, doesn’t it?
Here we are paying record costs for gasoline, many of us are canceling vacation plans, not traveling as much as we used to, scrimping and saving to make a gallon of gas last. Here we are, paying astronomical costs for property insurance, if we can get it at all. Here we are.
Louisiana, it seems, has the lowest minimum requirements for liability in the nation, the famous 10-20-20 system. A Baton Rouge rep wants to raise that to 25-50-25. The legislature passed a similar bill last year, but Gov. Blanco vetoed it. Most motorists would see about a 10 percent cost increase in premiums.
Rep. Sam Jones of Franklin voted against; Rep. Joe Harrison of Labadieville voted in favor.
A working man cannot get a break in this country or in this state anymore. Are the maroons in Baton Rouge really so detached from the needs of its citizenry that they don’t even consider us anymore? They just sit around up there and arbitrarily pass these laws, one after another, and we just take it like a buncha sniveling wimps, then we turn around and put the same losers back into office, making them winners by some bizarre freak chance of reality.
I repeat: It’s time for a revolution.
Another log for stoking the fires of mutiny around this joint…
Two decades ago, five Monroe-area antique shop owners got together and bought some advertising. Simple as that. All these years later, that move became Antique Alley, in West Monroe’s Cotton Port Historic District, which was honored in the latest issue of AAA Southern Traveler magazine. Southern Living will also be featuring the coalition of 25 shops this summer.
The AP noted, "Eric Hale, the city of West Monroe’s economic development coordinator, said the city recently obtained certified local government status, which he said is the first and a necessary step to be accepted to the state’s Main Street program. Hale said making Antique Alley a part of the Main Street program would allow state officials to become involved in creation of a master development plan for the area.
"The commercial activity can bring that whole area up," Hale said. "Developing an older historic district is different than developing a new shopping center. Everything has to maintain the character of the area."
Dang. We already have a Main Street Program designation here. I wonder where the state guys are, helping create our master development plan?
The story concluded that West Monroe Chamber of Commerce President Mary Ann Newton said Antique Alley is a "substantial" part of the community.
"Those people work hard to create a nice atmosphere," Newton said. "It brings people in from the interstate."
Hale said he was happy Antique Alley was still attractive, and most of the buildings were occupied.
"What has happened down there has been the natural evolution of things," Hale said. "There are good local shops, and the people take pride in keeping up the area."
And the song remains the same…
Well, dang if I didn’t just rattle on about politics and economic diversity and community development stuff anyway!
Oh, well. Next time, we’ll talk about something a bit lighter. I’ll tell you about the long-lost cousin and his wife who came to visit over the weekend from California.
Oh, and they were totally awed by our end of the parish and the city, but we’ll save that until Friday, what say?