West Monroe Mayor Staci Mitchell.jpg

The city of West Monroe has been awarded a $4-million grant for drainage improvement work.

Mayor Staci Mitchell disclosed the news about the grant Tuesday night at the Board of Aldermen’s regular meeting. She said the grant was courtesy of the state Department of Transportation and Development’s Statewide Flood Control program.

“This is great news,” Mitchell said.

Much of the grant funding will pay for improvements to Black Bayou canal, which stretches from near Walmart in West Monroe to the city’s pump stations at the Ouachita River. Those improvements would include dredging and widening the drainage canal.

Grant funding also will be spent on other drainage improvement work in the city, but Mitchell was not ready to discuss it in detail.

“That will come later,” Mitchell said.

The city also has been awarded a $99,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for West Monroe’s streetscapes study. The study will determine West Monroe’s best course of action to enhance and improve its downtown, including areas along the river, along Trenton Street and elsewhere. A Clive, Iowa company — McClure Engineering — has been retained to conduct the study.

“This company is a good fit for this because they’ll help identify funding opportunities to pay for what the study recommends,” Mitchell said.

On another front, the Board of Aldermen approved a resolution to begin the process of annexing property at two roundabouts currently under construction on Arkansas Road. West Monroe Police Chief Jeff Terrell said the roundabouts posed a jurisdictional problem for West Monroe police because property located within or bordering the roundabouts was not within the city’s corporate limits.

The Board of Aldermen’s resolution must be approved by DOTD before the city can proceed with the annexation because road work along Arkansas Road, including the construction of the roundabouts, is a state-funded project.

The two roundabouts in question are located at Warren Drive and Good Hope Road. The one at Warren Drive is scheduled to open Aug. 22.

The Board of Aldermen also approved an ordinance to establish West Monroe’s own adjudicated property program as well as an ordinance to engage E&P Consulting Services to manage it. City attorney Doug Caldwell said West Monroe’s program would be very similar to the one operated by the Ouachita Parish Police Jury.

Adjudicated property is property the city owns because a property owner did not pay the property taxes owed on the property, and no one bought the property at the city’s annual tax sale. As Caldwell explained, the city owning adjudicated property represents a financial burden because the city must maintain it. The adjudicated property program would allow the city to transfer ownership of adjudicated property to a private owner for very little money.

“At least it would put the property back into commerce and on the city’s tax rolls,” Caldwell said.

In other news, West Monroe Fire Chief Todd Smith said the fire department would be testing fire hydrants throughout the city until Sept. 20.

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