Phase 1 of Shadows at Manchac pond fix approved, Board to consider adding subdivisions

The first actionable item of newly-elected EA Drainage Chairman Chase Melancon’s tenure, a unanimous vote approved public funding to fix the dry retention pond serving (or not) Shadows at Manchac subdivision.  The panel, minus former Chairman Dempsey Lambert and Prairieville’s Councilman Corey Orgeron who were absent, adopted the first phase of a two-phased remedy presented by Hartman Engineering.   Given Monday’s discussion, it seems EA Drainage and President Clint Cointment will address other failing subdivision ponds in the future…

beginning with Shadows at Manchac.

$501,627 worth of public funds (Phase 2 contemplates another $452,101) to remedy a privately-created, localized problem.  President Cointment deemed it a “unique situation” because it is a dry detention pond, causing “regional problems” not limited to property owners in the subdivision.  He previously conceded that:

“We can’t be responsible for every pond in the parish.”

But they can, and will, be responsible for some if the discussion leads to future action.

Councilman Joel Robert was the first to “open the can of worms,” conceding a change of heart from the proposal’s initial consideration by the board.  Robert qualified his support on certain of those drainage dollars finding their way into his District 2, proposing a set amount to be allocated in each of the ten east bank council districts.  Should that come to pass it would be a much easier sell to each representative’s constituency, Robert reasoned.

NOTE:  If the current proposal to redraw council districts lines is approved all 11 districts will represent areas on the east bank.  District 1, currently exclusive to the west bank, would take in Pelican Crossing subdivision and areas southeast of the Town of Sorrento.

For decades Ascension Parish’s failure to hold subdivision developers to account, Homeowners Associations neglecting to maintain retention/detention ponds, situations akin to Shadows at Manchac exist all over east bank Ascension.  How much of East Ascension Drainage General Fund’s…

From 2021 Adopted Budget Book

$27,882,525 is the Board willing to earmark for subdivision ponds?

Receiving upwards of $21 million annually in total revenues, the vast majority from a perpetual 1/2% Sales and Use tax along with 5 mills ad valorem, EA Drainage’s Construction Fund Budget…

From 2022 Draft Budget Book

totaled $44,558,648 at the end of 2021.

Councilman Michael Mason opined that individual Homeowners Associations, including Shadows at Manchac’s, should have “some skin in the game” before significant taxpayer dollars are allocated.  After all, there is a duty of upkeep for those elements of retention/detention ponds not dedicated to Ascension Parish.  The parish is afforded drainage servitudes to maintain certain infrastructure but does not take on day-to-day maintenance like grass-cutting (nor could it).

Councilman Dal Waguespack recommended an analysis of EA Drainage’s budget, especially if additional subdivision ponds will be added to the list of remedial jobs to be undertaken.  Closing the discussion, President Cointment expressed unequivocal support for the additional undertakings, advising that a third-party analyst should be brought in to generate a “priority list” of projects like that which is employed to identify road rehabilitation jobs.

The parish is going to start with the Shadow at Manchac’s retention pond, the Board approving Phase 1.  Phase 2…

is not dead.  Councilman John Cagnolatti’s motion to revisit its need after Phase 1 is accomplished was approved without objection.