The Town of Sorrento and East Ascension Drainage Commission may be close to an agreement whereby the Commission commits Ascension Parish “to assist with open roadside ditch maintenance in the amount of a minimum of 1.5 miles per year.” There is a Memorandum of Understanding, unsigned as far as we know, circulating among elected officials of the town and EA Drainage Commission. The MOU was presented after EA Drainage Commissioners met in Executive Session on October 12, followed by a meeting between representatives of the parties.
The identities of meeting participants (who represented Sorrento, EA Drainage and Parish President Clint Cointment’s administration) has not been disclosed. Two Sorrento Council members were miffed at being excluded from the discussions, not even alerted to the meeting’s substance.
All while Sorrento and Mayor Mike Lambert have an ongoing lawsuit against EA Drainage Commission which alleges “the Town of Sorrento sent correspondence seeking acknowledgement by the District that it is obligated to clean and maintain the roadside ditches and culverts within the municipal boundaries of the Town, on the same equal basis as those roadside ditches and culverts located in the unincorporated areas located within the District.”
The District is comprised of the entirety of Ascension Parish east of the Mississippi River, which encompasses the City of Gonzales where drainage/flooding concerns are increasing.
“It’s progress,” concluded Sorrento Councilman Chris Guidry who was not among the meeting attendees. “I cannot stress too strongly the absolute necessity for Sorrento to have a good working relationship with parish government and East Ascension Drainage. While encouraged to see movement toward getting our ditches addressed, there are other, many would say larger, problems.”
Guidry, rumored to be eying a mayoral run in April 2021, has been visibly frustrated at his exclusion from the process. Sorrento town government is as fractured as it has been in some time, prevailing territorialism unseen since town voters opted to abolish Sorrento Police Department in 2014.
“What’s good for Sorrento drainage is good for Ascension Parish,” Guidry repeated what’s becoming a mantra of cooperation. “The current parish leadership understands that projects beneficial to Sorrento also benefit thousands of parish residents.”
The agreement proposed in the MOU “is a good start” according to Guidry. What effect it has on Mayor Lambert’s pending litigation remains to be seen though there is little of substance to be gained for Sorrento, even if successful. As a legislative body, the 10-member (comprised of ten east bank Parish Council members) East Ascension Drainage Commission cannot be compelled to expend tax dollars to remedy the town’s drainage problems (or any drainage problems for that matter).