Nearly a decade ago Ascension’s Library Board acquired 13,+ acres for a fifth branch, along Hwy 431 (between Cannon and Bayou Narcisse roads) in St. Amant. Subsequently, much of St. Amant was devastated by the Flood of August 2016 which rendered St. Amant Park (which had been renamed to honor Roger Clouatre) unfit for its intended use. On October 7 Planning and Facilities Director Ricky Compton unveiled plans to combine forces with the Library Board utilize its acreage to house an 8,000 square foot community center adjacent to the 22,000 square foot library to the Parish Council.
The site will be designed for recreational use, converting to a distribution center/shelter in those all too frequent times of emergency.
Members of the Library Board, represented by Lisa Bacala, were present to endorse the plans, a product of lengthy talks which included input from Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office and the parish’s Office of Emergency Preparedness. The Board has accumulated funds to build a facility in St. Amant for some time.
On August 15, 2020 voters, by a 2 to 1 margin, renewed a ten-year property tax (actually combining two and decreasing the overall levy by one mill. See ballot proposition below):
Shall the Parish of Ascension, State of Louisiana (the “Parish”), be authorized to levy and collect a 5.6 mills tax on all the property subject to taxation in the Parish (an estimated $9,535,200.00 is reasonably expected at this time to be collected from the levy of the tax for an entire year), for a period of ten (10) years, beginning with the year 2021 and ending with the year 2030, for the purpose of maintaining and supporting the Ascension Parish Library and its branches, such tax to be in lieu of the 2.6 mills and 4.2 mills taxes currently being levied for the same purpose?
Construction is tentatively scheduled for 2022 with the parish tapping into the newly-created Mega Infrastructure Fund to keep pace with the Library Board. Director Compton addressed the expectation that FEMA funds ($1.6 million) intended to rebuild Roger Clouatre Park can be diverted, but expressed uncertainty about dates of availability. The Mega Infrastructure Fund was created by ordinance on July 1:
Upon the sale of the East Bank Sewer utility assets, all proceeds from sale will be deposited into (the Fund)…created for the purpose of improving the infrastructure and capital assets of the Parish as it relates to transportation, drainage and recreational needs…
Compton will present an item seeking an allocation from the fund at the regularly scheduled Council Finance Committee meeting in November (regularly scheduled for second Monday of each month).
“We are well aware of the impacts and implications of building and adding fill in the flood zone, especially in St. Amant which experienced so much devastation in 2016,” Rick Compton added. “Together, we’ve decided that we’ll be building the library and community center on piers, utilizing as little off-site fill as possible.”