The evening of Nov. 8 was a busy one for the Madisonville Town Council, as it:

  • heard presentations on building plans for St. Anselm’s Catholic Church
  • adopted an ordinance setting new utility rates for residential and commercial customers
  • deferred action on choosing a consulting firm to develop a master land-use plan for the town
  • got the details on a gas line fire that injured five employees
  • and announced the appointment of a town historian

Michael Holly and Pierre Theriot, of the Holly and Smith architectural firm, described a $6.8 million project to replace several aging structures at St. Anselm’s with a large multipurpose building and provide additional parking for the 2,500-family parish.

The parish administration building, Weseman Hall and St. Joseph Hall would all be replaced by a two-story building that would provide meeting rooms and classrooms, an adoration chapel and administrative offices while adding 7,000 square feet of usable space.

Consolidating three buildings into one would make room for additional on-site parking, providing a total of 229 on-site and off-site spaces compared with the 174 spaces currently available. The new building would be raised to provide ground-level parking and allow for a new traffic flow pattern that would ease congestion during periods of peak activity.

Holly and Theriot stressed that the plans met all zoning requirements and didn't require zoning or construction waivers or the approval of the council. But Councilman Kevin Doran questioned whether nearby residents would approve of a large multistory building on the decades-old campus surrounded by traditional cottages.

The architects, along with St. Anselm pastor Msgr. Frank Giroir, responded that the plans were preliminary and could be revised in response to concerns of parishioners, neighbors and the town’s administration. Giroir said a capital campaign was just starting, and detailed architectural plans would not be drawn until at least half of the $6.8 million has been collected.

On its business agenda, the council adopted an ordinance increasing monthly utility rates. Residential water bills will increase from $20 to $22 per month, sewer from $28 to $30, gas from $12 to $15, and garbage collection from $22.25 to $24. Commercial rates were also increased.

In other action, councilmen tabled the selection of a consulting firm to help develop a master land-use plan for the town. Over the past eight months, the council had received presentations from multiple planning organizations, but decided at the meeting that it did not have enough details to choose among them.

During his regular monthly report, maintenance supervisor Kyle Matthews said five town employees were injured Nov. 1 when a leaking natural gas line they were repairing ignited. Several suffered burns on their arms, and one came out of the incident with a sprained wrist.

All of the injured were taken to a hospital and discharged the same day. They should be back on the job by the end of the month, Matthews said. He added that the town was fully cooperating with an investigation of the incident by the state Department of Natural Resources, which regulates the town’s gas service.

Mayor Jean Pelloat also announced the appointment of Iris Vacante as town historian and cultural affairs director. Vacante, a self-described local history buff, was instrumental in getting the town to assume ownership of its long-neglected cemetery.