EA Drainage okays “discussion” of taxpayer-funded retention pond fix (Robert alone in opposition)

District 2 Councilman Joel Robert

Nearing three months since six members voted to oust him, President Clint Cointment is still directing East Ascension Drainage District’s operations.  On Monday a 7-1 vote authorized Cointment to commence discussions with Shadows at Manchac’s Homeowners Association in the hope of fixing a non-functioning retention pond.  The vote “is not a binding contract” but intended to examine “how we can help them with their issues” which are the product of engineering and construction flaws according to Cointment.

Mere discussion, and not contemplative of actions, assured EA Drainage Commissioner/District 7 Councilman Aaron Lawler prior to Monday’s vote.  Commissioner/Councilman Joel Robert was the lone holdout.

“How many detention/retention ponds do we have in the parish?  We’re setting a precedent and, yes, we’ve got special circumstances here but we’ve got to be fair,” Robert cautioned his colleagues against opening the floodgates for innumerable subdivisions to seek public financing to repair their innumerable flawed detention ponds; concluding ,”I don’t feel like it’s the parish’s place, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars (of public money) to improve private property.”

President Cointment, still over EA Drainage, explained those “special circumstances,” distinguishing the pond supposed to retain/detain stormwater inside Shadows at Manchac’s footprint.  It is one of the few dry detention ponds built in Ascension with a “three-weir system.”

“I think there is somewhat of an engineering flaw, a little bit in the construction,” Cointment explained.  “If it continues to degrade it could flood neighboring subdivisions.”

Which begged the questions, asked by Councilman Robert:

  • Who is the developer that constructed the flawed pond?
  • Which engineering firm designed the flawed pond?
  • Do they have no responsibility to fix what they broke?

Ross Berthelot of Berthelot Holdings, LLC (file photo)

The official Meeting Minutes from the Planning Commission’s April 11, 2012 approval of Shadows at Manchac:

Located at the intersection of McCrory 1 Road and McCrory 2 Road in Council District 7, the proposed subdivision will include 158 lots…The application is on behalf of McLin and Associates, Inc. for Berthelot Holdings, LLC.

But, apparently, there is no action being contemplated to hold either McLin (the engineer), nor Berthelot (the developer) to account.  Even though the accompanying DRAINAGE STUDY SUMMARY concluded:

The Ascension Parish Drainage ordinance required 100% detention of post development stormwater runoff.  To accomplish this, a proposed pond will be utilized at the sit.  The detention pond will store and offset the increase in drainage runoff volume generated from the development of this site and will release at a rate below that of the pre-development conditions.  The overall stormwater runoff for this site will be reduced at the outfalls.

Based upon the calculations and design for this development included within the Drainage Study report, it is found that the development site is not expected to have a negative impact for this area during the 10-year and 100-year storm event.

Oh, well.

$400,000 on private land?  How’s that different from digging a ditch on my property (with taxpayer money)?” wondered Commissioner/Councilman Chase Melancon, picking up where Councilman Robert left off.

Price to remedy Shadows at Manchac’s flawed retention pond.

Melancon and six others (Teri Casso and Michael Mason were absent, Alvin Thomas is not a member of EA Drainage) voted to authorize the administration “to discuss” corrective measures with Shadows at Manchac’s HOA.

What is there to discuss?

Hartman Engineering concluded an assessment, determining that it will cost $379,811 to fix what is broken in the subdivision’s faulty retention pond.  Is there a scenario in which the HOA would reject taxpayer dollars devoted to fix its faulty retention pond?

Councilman Joel Robert was alone in opposing the discussions.