Relief is coming to Ridgecrest residents in the form of a $990,352 Louisiana Community Development Block Grant (LCDBG), according to a letter from Gov. John Bel Edwards on Monday.
The money will be used to bypass Ridgecrest’s timeworn water plant and tie into Ferriday’s water system.
Ridgecrest’s plant has been producing brown-tinted water for months. During this time period, several boil-water notices have been activated due to the water, and residents have relied on bottled water for cooking and drinking.
“This feels good,” Mayor Veller Ray Carroll said. “Now is the time for the people to come together as one and not a divided town and get this done. We have the money. It’s time to do something.”
He expressed his appreciation to Sen. Glen Womack and Town Clerk Jamie Bradford “for all of their hard work getting the grant.”
Grant money will be contingent upon Louisiana’s receipt of FY 2020 LCDBG funds from Housing and Urban Development program (HUD), according to the letter. Costs cannot be incurred prior to the receipt of an authorization letter that will be sent “in the near future.”
“This is a tremendous step forward, but it is the first step of many,” said Keith Capdepon, project engineer with Bryant Hammett & Associates of Ferriday.
Now, various government agencies will have to sign off on the project before ground can be broken.
Additionally, the grant approval means Ridgecrest will not have to accept a USDA loan / grant totaling $999,000 to finance the project which would cause resident’s water bill to increase.
“I did not want to have to borrow the money and put the burden on the people of Ridgecrest,” Carroll said.
Grant funding will bankroll sandblasting and cleaning of the interior and exterior of Ridgecrest’s water tower.
Money will also be used to purchase and install a new ground storage tank, install a water line from Ferriday’s water plant to Ridgecrest’s storage tank, purchase new radio-controlled water meters and install a handicap bathroom in city hall. The water line will run down Vidalia Drive.
The LCDBG program is a federally-funded and includes assistance for public facilities through grants with funds for potable water, sewer, streets, and community center projects.