West Monroe Mayor Staci Mitchell.JPG

The city of West Monroe unveiled a master plan Tuesday to overhaul downtown and Mayor Staci Mitchell says work on the endeavor should begin later this year.

Prepared by the consulting firm McClure, the downtown master plan was presented at a public hearing prior to the Board of Aldermen’s regular meeting. The plan calls for West Monroe to bury utilities in the downtown area, widen sidewalks, improve landscaping and create more recreational spaces. Parking would be improved as well.

The city paid for the downtown master plan with a $99,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The city was required to put roughly $40,000 in matching funds.

“None of this is cheap,” Mitchell said. “We have already started looking at funding to implement the plan and expect to begin work later in the year.”

Mitchell said the city would tackle the downtown master plan in phases. She said it would take two to five years to complete it, depending on funding.

“The good thing about McClure is they will help us identify sources of funding and they will help us implement the plan,” Mitchell said.

Overhauling downtown West Monroe was an issue Mitchell often raised when she was a candidate for mayor in 2018. She also suggested at the time that West Monroe needed to adopt a master plan for the city as a whole.

On Tuesday, Mitchell disclosed the city secured an additional grant from USDA to engage McClure to develop an overarching master plan for the city. According to Mitchell, the additional grant was for $78,000. West Monroe was required to provide another $40,000 in matching funds.

“The master plan for the city as a whole will bring all of this together,” Mitchell said.

In law enforcement matters, West Monroe Police Chief Jeff Terrell announced the police department had hired nine new officers. He said the department was now fully staffed.

Eight of the nine new officers must undergo training at North Delta Police Academy while the ninth new officer has already graduated from North Delta.

On another front, the Board of Aldermen agreed to apply for a $2-million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to pay for a new sewer lift station on Drago Street. If the city is awarded the grant, West Monroe would be required to provide a 20 percent match in funding, or $200,000.

In other business, the Board of Aldermen renewed an agreement with the state Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) for the city to maintain state-owned traffic signals in West Monroe for another year. The state pays the city $800 for each traffic signal it maintains. There are 28 state-owned traffic signals in West Monroe.

Aldermen also renewed an agreement with DOTD for the city to cut the grass and pickup litter along Interstate 20 within West Monroe’s corporate limits. The state pays the city $29,055 to do the work for the year.

“We always get compliments about how well we keep the grass cut along the interstate, compared to other areas along I-20,” Mitchell said.

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