EA Drainage favors, but defers, fixing Shadows at Manchac drainage issues

Dry retention pond in Shadows at Manchac

“We can’t be responsible for every pond in the parish,” conceded President Clint Cointment who is trying to figure out the best way to be responsible for the retention pond in Shadows at Manchac subdivision.  If approved by East Ascension Drainage District, which considered a menu of remedial options earlier this week, how will the president/district reject the next subdivision’s request to fix its underperforming detention/retention pond (or any drainage problem for that mattery)?

It is a potential “can of worms” that could alienate the next group of residents seeking drainage relief.

A “unique situation” because it is a dry detention pond, the non-functioning drainage mitigation feature is causing “regional problems” not limited to property owners in the subdivision according to President Cointment.  Three potential remedial plans were presented to East Ascension Drainage District by Hartman Engineering’s Jared Monceaux on Monday, the cheapest coming with a $441,903 price tag.  Nary a word was said in dissent, though there was talk of spreading the cost over the next to drainage budgets.

  • Option 1:  ($910,885) to convert the dry detention pond to a wet pond.
  • Option 2:  ($910,384) to limit the conversion to an existing parish-owned 30′ servitude, a center channel to be constructed with concrete lining to decrease future maintenance cost.
  • Option 3:  ($441,903) to improve the subsurface drainage in the subdivision, the one recommended by Hartman’s Monceaux preliminarily.
  • There was a fourth option, called for by President Cointment, No. 2 above but without the concrete lining which could drop the price tag to $510,000.

Councilman Aaron Lawler (sitting Ex Officio as Drainage Commissioner), whose District 7 includes Shadows at Manchac, argued in favor of the undertaking the expense though it is unclear which one of the options will be chosen.  Lawler cast blame on the developer…

Should Ascension taxpayers foot bill to repair subdivision retention pond?

Berthelot Holdings, LLC which received initial approval for Shadows at Manchac’s preliminary plat nearly a decade ago (April 11, 2012).  The District 7 representative leveled part of the blame on Ascension Parish which is guilty of “a failure to inspect” when debris/sod/sand/concrete was “dumped in the drainage way” during construction.  Affected homebuyers “relied on Ascension Parish doing its job” to their detriment, reasoned Lawler who praised the current administration for steps taken to prevent such occurrences in the future.

Even though the Parish Attorney concluded such “a failure to inspect” does not expose the parish to civil liability, multiple EA Drainage commissioners expressed support for expending taxpayer dollars to remedy the drainage deficiencies.  Councilman Joel Robert, on the opposite end of the political spectrum, even made a motion to approve a combination of options:

  • Option 3’s ($441,903) to improve the subsurface drainage in the subdivision) and (No. 4), converting the center channel where an existing 30′ servitude exists to a wet pond without the concrete lining.

Robert, not one to quibble and never disguising his motives, qualified his support with the expectation that his District 2 constituents (specifically those in Pelican Point subdivision) will see their drainage problems addressed in the near term.

“We all have them in our districts,” Robert cautioned, meaning older subdivisions plagued by substandard drainage.

Councilman Lawler lobbied for addressing “the plethora of neighborhoods” similarly situated, i.e. older subdivisions experiencing drainage problems, as part of a planned (and budgeted, we suppose) drainage program.  Any commissioner supporting the (nearly) million dollar expenditure better be able to deliver the goods to his/her own constituents.  How much money is in the EA Drainage Fund?

President Cointment asked them to defer the final vote until Hartman Engineering can firm up the numbers, urging “details, not concepts” before committing a not insignificant amount of money without “specific cost figures.”  Hartman was directed to present a “more detailed plan” at the December EA Drainage meeting.