DONALDSONVILLE — The Ascension Parish Council agreed Thursday to seek a Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation sewer system grant.
The vote came as Parish President Tommy Martinez said in interviews late Thursday that the parish is negotiating acquisition of customers from two private sewer providers, including major parish provider Ascension Wastewater Treatment Inc.
Martinez said the parish needs about 7,000 customers to pay off an $18 million Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality loan. The parish has been awarded the loan but not incurred the debt.
“We’re going to continue to do what we’re doing. It’s just going to be a matter of working out the details with these private providers,” he said.
Martha Collins, parish grants officer, told the council Thursday that the New Orleans-area foundation has $1.2 million available, and that Ascension Parish is hoping for about $300,000.
Collins said the parish seeks the grant each year. The council backed another try on an 8-0 vote.
Councilmen Adrian Thompson and Dempsey Lambert were absent. Council Chairman Pat Bell does not vote except to break a tie.
In the interviews, Martinez said parish officials are looking at areas west of Airline Highway for sewer improvements in connection with plans to widen La. 73.
Other actions taken by the council involved:
ST. JOSEPH’S SCHOOL: The council cast a final vote, 8-0, to remove the parish’s designation of the St. Joseph’s School as an historic site.
The vote follows owner Al Robert’s successful push last year to remove the school, one of the state’s first Roman Catholic schools for black children, from the National Register of Historic Places.
A parish suit in March over permit violations by Robert at the school site led to a settlement that called on the council to remove the parish historic designation because the national one had been removed.
The parish has not issued building permits with the designation’s status pending.
A. Russell Stevenson, pastor of River Community Church South, which uses the school, said he hoped the council would support the change so a permit can be issued for a handicap-accessible ramp to the school.