Smaller group will solely focus on moving levee project forward
Monday, May 16, 2016
ST. JOHN – Tuesday night, the St. John Parish Council unanimously voted to create a Flood Protection Committee of the Council whose sole focus will be working with the administration and local partners to move the West Shore levee project forward. Councilman Buddy Boe, the sponsor of the resolution creating the committee, submitted it immediately following the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s 19-1 approval of the Westshore Project’s inclusion in the Water Resources & Development Act of 2016.
Councilman Boe said, “The process of building the levee has only just begun. We must work with our federal (Corps) and non-federal partners (PLD, CPRA, and neighboring parishes) to finalize agreements, cost shares, and maintain our project’s inclusion in both WRDA16 and the State’s Coastal Master Plan. We can’t wait for someone else to do this for us. We have to lead or we will be waiting forever.” Before the Council voted on the resolution, Boe spent a considerable amount of time explaining the many next steps ahead of the Parish and offered to serve as a member of the Committee.
After a lengthy discussion about the purpose of the committee, the next steps at the local level, and individual commitments to move the levee project forward, all members present voted and voiced their support of the administration and delegation’s efforts to secure approval of the project by Congress and the President. The most immediate step is formulating a Morandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Army Corps of Engineers to allow any money spent by the locals to count towards the non-federal cost share of the project’s total cost. By the end of May, the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, which Congressman Garrett Graves is a member, is scheduled to vote on the inclusion of West Shore in WRDA16.
“This Committee will allow me and my staff to work closely with the Council as we negotiate agreements, initiate design, and identify local financial resources to bring the levee closer to construction. We must remain persistent to get this done,” said President Robottom. The Parish President spoke in favor of the formation of the committee during the discussion and acknowledged the amount of work that lies ahead for St. John, the Pontchartrain Levee District, and CPRA in the coming months and years.
“I was happy to support this resolution because it demonstrates that we are ready to take the necessary steps to move forward with developing our levee system and protecting the people of St John Parish,” said Councilwoman District II Julia Remondet.