Mayor’s message: ‘Zachary is blessed’ _lowres

Photo provided by Rip Rittell -- Zachary Mayor David Amrhein

The fifth anniversary of Zachary’s current administration was celebrated Jan. 10, as well as the close of another productive year by city employees, Mayor David Amrhein said in his annual message to the city.

As in previous years, employees’ sustained efforts on all fronts remain central to successes enjoyed by all Zachary residents.

“Their work ethic clearly demonstrates a proven approach to both problem solving and project accomplishment. It’s also indicative of the ongoing relationship between the city and its public partners in helping to meet the needs of all,” Amrhein said.

According to the mayor’s message, continuing efforts of Zachary’s five elected council members — Ben Cavin, Francis Nezianya, Brandon Noel, Laura O’Brien and Tommy Womack — help provide district-wide support on behalf of all constituents.

“Zachary continues to address infrastructure improvements, which over the past five years are deemed well ahead of schedule,” Amrhein said. “These improvements are realized through multiple projects and continue to pay substantial dividends.”

Included are projects involving sewer rehabilitation work, drainage, new and improved natural gas distribution systems and efficiency measures, improved water and system monitoring that assure quality control and plentiful delivery, and an abundance of ongoing road project work.

A testament to Zachary’s unique approach to traffic realignment, roads management and related safety concerns, which have been addressed through a “best practices” model, the city received the Louisiana Municipal Association’s Community Achievement Award in 2015 for design and completion of the Montegudo Boulevard-Bypass Road project.

Awarded for “Outstanding Community Improvement through Community Development,” the project was a major initiative intent on improving traffic capacity and efficiency along La. 64 and its intersection with La. 19.

While widening improvements and point repairs continue along La. 64, the much-anticipated inconvenience, business interruption and traffic congestion concerns have remained minimal, according to Amrhein.

This is due in large part to a well-planned construction schedule that has more intrusive work occurring during evening hours instead of more congested periods of heavier traffic during the day.

Amrhein said concerns continue to grow with each passing year as attempts are made to improve the city’s business climate, while at the same time sustaining the one in place now.

“A strong, well-forged partnership already exists between the city, its economic development initiative and the Zachary Chamber of Commerce,” Amrhein said. “Together, with more positive involvement and stronger public support, it will better assure the smart growth model envisioned for Zachary, while also serving as the guiding principles for success.”

When mentioning the city’s workforce, Amrhein said Zachary’s is considerably smaller now than it was upon entering office in 2011.

“While now fewer in number, our workers remain mighty in their ability to deliver essential city services every day, and having demonstrated the ability to do more with less, limitations remain that cannot and will not be ignored, especially when considering worker safety concerns,” he said.

As a consequence of those shrinking numbers, a time is quickly approaching when even the best efforts will be exceeded by an ever increasing demand for services, Amrhein said.

Regarding future growth, and unless or until a time when the prevailing attitude that “existing businesses are enough” changes, Zachary could become a victim of its own demise.

“Failed economic development potential in today’s cities is a real and growing symptom of a more serious condition, which often proves to be irreversible. Every economic development model, study and/or opinion available describes today’s cities as either growing or dying,” Amrhein said. “The precipice in determining success or failure for Zachary’s future lies in its innate ability to create compromise, while at the same time achieving stability and balance if it’s to continue growing while attracting new businesses.”

Failing that, the only remaining alternative is accepting the failure for not doing so, he said.

As Amrhein has said since 2011, “Failure is not an option — an opinion I still strongly and publicly affirm.”

Zachary is blessed, he said, with all the amenities that one could possibly have in a place called home. The community’s fire and police departments provide a climate of safety, reassurance and calm, a condition many other communities can only hope to have, Amrhein’s message said.

“Our schools are among the best nationally and rated top in the state academically. Eleven straight years as ‘numero uno’ provides strong support for the notion that a sustained effort does work,” Amrhein said.

Zachary has a tremendous growth potential, one filled with an ever present hope for an even better future than the one envisioned just five short years ago, the mayor said.

“Let’s use the coming year to reaffirm our commitment to everything good about our city, while promoting what’s necessary to assure Zachary’s growing future and legacy,” Amrhein said.