Gilbert children will soon have a park with playground equipment.

Town Council members agreed to cash in a certificate of deposit (CD) at WSB worth approximately $30,000 to finance park playground equipment in their regular meeting, Aug. 31.

“We’ve done a lot in 20 years,” said Gilbert Mayor Mike Stephens. “We’ve got better equipment, and I’m not one to play and spend money then can’t pay the bills. I want to make sure everything is took care of and money put up for emergencies. It is time now to show the people we have been saving their money. We need to show them here’s your money, and we are going to build a pretty park with it.”

Gilbert has three CDs which includes the one used to finance the park. One worth is $50,000, another $6,000 and another $30,000, according to Stephens. Gilbert has had the CDs for approximately 20 years.

Gilbert officials have been discussing creating a park with playground equipment for quite some time and felt the timing was right with American Relief Plan (ARP) funds soon coming to village coffers.

Gilbert is expecting approximately $205,000 in ARP funds, according to Stephens. Money will be used to help replace revenue lost during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are real close to getting ARP funds,” Stephens said. “I wouldn’t (cash the CD) if I felt like we weren’t going to be covered. (ARP funding) is definitely coming. They reviewed the plans last week. Some towns have already got their (funds).”

With guidance from Gilbert resident Heather Carroll, Town Council members also chose playground equipment to be featured at the municipal park.

They chose equipment featuring a overhead climber, stepping pods, window panel, slide and a bench. The structure is mounted in ground and will be professionally installed.

Also to be featured on the playground will be a tic tac toe stand alone, teeter duo rider and two musical play features. Soft rubber mulch will be under all the playground equipment.

“This is something we really need to push to try to get something going,” Stephens said. “I know this is a costly deal, but I would like to get something started this year. It’s time to move forward.”

In related action, Gilbert will apply for a grant whose funding can be used for park improvements and construction, according to Cinnamon Gooding with McManus Engineering.

Community Development Block Grant - Cares (CDBG - CV) program is offering $2.3 million for parks and recreation. Sixty small municipalities can apply for up to $125,000, Gooding said. 

Additionally, Gooding reported Gilbert is waiting for USDA approval of sewer project paperwork. After approval, project bids can be advertised and eventually awarded.

Gilbert received a $821,000 USDA grant along with a $588,000 USDA loan to refurbish the majority of its sewer system. The amounts total $1.4 million with 58 percent of the proceeds coming from the grant.

The USDA loan comes with a 1.125 percent interest rate.

With grant and loan funding, Gilbert will refurbish its lift stations and manholes, upgrade its sewer force mains and rework the waste water treatment plant.

Meanwhile, Town Council members agreed to abandon Lee Street blocks 11, 23 and 24. Stephens cited the blocks were no use to the village and no streets were located on the blocks.

In other action, Stephens and Town Council members discussed entering into a longterm cooperative endeavor agreement with Franklin Parish School Board. The agreement would be the use of the old Gilbert sports complex for future events in return Gilbert would provide upkeep.

Town Council members also agreed to send the clerk and assistant clerk to Louisiana Municipal Association clerk school.

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