"jumpstarts" reservoir plans
Rep. Hollis Downs, R-Ruston, hosted the meeting of area engineers, financial leaders, and government representatives.
Downs told those who gathered
at his office on Mississippi Street that the project has the complete
support of Lincoln Parish's congressional delegation.
"Rick (Rep. Rick Gallot,
D-Grambling), Bob (Sen. Robert Kostelka) and I are committed to the project
for Lincoln Parish," Downs said. "They've sort of given me the
green light to run with this."
Downs said Friday's meeting
was an attempt to "jump start" efforts to get a reservoir built
in Lincoln Parish.
"There has been overwhelming
public support," Downs said. "There's been no opposition to
the concept, only skepticism from those who have tried before."
Lincoln Parish Administrator
Richard Durrett asked Downs if the reservoir would hamper efforts currently
in progress to lay a 42-inch pipeline from Lake D'Arbonne in Union Parish
to Ruston to alleviate the strain on the Sparta Aquifer.
"We're committed to solving
the Sparta problem," Downs said. "We see D'Arbonne as being
a significant part of solving that problem and don't intend to do anything
to jeopardize that. But we want to press on with this economic venture
and what it might do to alleviate strain on the Sparta."
Dean Dick, one of four engineers
invited to Friday's meeting, asked Downs how the pipeline and proposed
reservoir would mesh."The reservoir would be lagniappe," Downs
said. "Our driving force is economic development; any gain for water
usage is lagniappe."
The reservoir would be funded
by state capital outlay funds, built by the Department of Transportation
and Development and managed by the state parks system, Downs said.
Reservoir developer Mike Thompson
explained that before the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers gives its approval
to a project, there has to be a "justified" need.
"In this case, it would
be water," Thompson said. "You have a significant problem with
the Sparta which makes it easier to develop a reservoir; economic development
would be a by-product."
Thompson said there would be
no competition for funds between the proposed D'Arbonne pipeline and the
"They're helpmates," he said. "These are very expensive projects, but worth every penny."
Thompson told those gathered
that the local community needed to come up with approximately $100,000
to get the project started. He said he would be paid about $85,000 a year
for his part in the project.
"I'll file all the capital
outlay requests," he said. "This is a political process, as
well as an economic process, and I have experience in both."
Thompson, the former mayor
of Delhi, has built reservoirs in Richland, Allen and Washington parishes.
said that in order to "get things started," an economic development
corporation — structured like an eventual Lake Commission that Gov.
Kathleen Blanco would appoint to oversee the reservoir's construction —
needed to be set up. He recommended a seven-person board selected from
among those invited to Friday's meeting.
Thompson cautioned that those
who agreed to sit on the board would be open to attack from those who
oppose the creation of a reservoir.
"If you don't like it,
don't do it," Thompson said. "If you can't take the heat, don't
be involved. It's a sensitive subject. You're going to build over people's
land and property."
Downs said Thompson would file a capital outlay request so that the reservoir could be included in this year's appropriation.
He also asked representatives
of the city of Ruston and the Lincoln Parish Police Jury to see if their
governing bodies would agree to sponsor the economic development corporation,
to be called the Lincoln Parish Lake Commission.
After further discussion, the group assembled agreed to meet again in the near future on a date determined by Downs.