State of Jefferson 2018
Leaders in Jefferson Parish reflect on a successful year and look forward to more improvments in the region.
After a successful year for Jefferson Parish, Jefferson Chamber members, sponsors and city officials gathered at the 2018 State of Jefferson to discuss key accomplishments and to focus on future improvements for the parish.
In his opening remarks, Jefferson Parish President Michael Yenni said that the true source of the parish’s success is the collaboration and mutual respect between the current Jefferson Parish Council and Administration.
“This Council and this Administration have, from time to time, disagreed. But we have never been so disagreeable with each other to make it personal,” Yenni said. “I consider each member of this Council a friend who is every bit as passionate as I am to see our Parish rise to its highest potential. Because we govern that way, we find success. And 2018 was the proof of that success.”
The main points of success that Yenni highlighted included the Administration’s focus on hot-button issues like drainage and flood protection. According to statistics Yenni presented in a pre-prepared video, Jefferson Parish’s drainage department cleared more than 800 thousand linear feet of drainage pipes, replaced pumps at 11 stations and built six new stations.
“Pumping capacity at Parish Line in Kenner is being increased by 25 percent. And we’ve invested more than $42 million of Federal grant funding to keep our homes and businesses above flood waters. A stunning 80,453 catch basins and 340 miles of open canal space are routinely maintained by Jefferson Parish Public Works to properly manage runoff from heavy downpours.”
Long term goals for the administration are to lead Jefferson Parish to become Louisiana’s first Class 5 community, as ranked by the National Flood Insurance Program. Other accomplishments Yenni highlighted for 2018 are the repairs of potholes and streetlights and repairs to the sewerage system. Elmwood Shopping Center is another target for improvement, as the city plans a “dramatic enhancement” to transition the area into a “Live, Work, and Play” community, meaning that Elmwood residents would not have to leave the neighborhood to access any basic amenities. Also instrumental to Jefferson’s growing success is a thriving medical industry, including East Jefferson General Hospital, rated top-ten in the country for care, West Jefferson Medical Center and Ochsner, the largest not-for-profit healthcare system in Louisiana.
Cynthia Lee-Sheng, Councilwoman-At-Large, Division B, also took the stage to highlight the Council’s major projects and achievements. She noted that Jefferson Parish is slated to receive $1.5 million in funding from the Gulf of Mexico Energy Securities Act (GOMESA) and an additional $3.1 million from the RESTORE Act, which contributes to restoration efforts resulting from the BP oil spill. Much of this funding will be used for projects that address the diminishing lands in the southern part of the parish and surrounding areas.
One such project is the Barataria Bay Waterway BUDMAT Project. BUDMAT, the Beneficial Use of Drudged Material, is a process seeking to use dredged material to build up wetlands. This technique was implemented at Barataria Bay, and the materials were used to try and reclaim a nearby marsh, Lee-Sheng said. Another project is the Grand Isle Independent Levee District, which seeks to protect the Grand Isle coast by building up segmented rock formations.
Lee-Sheng said that improvements are also slated for the Johnny Jacobs Driving Range, the Al Copeland Concert Meadow in Lafreniere Park and David Drive. Councilwoman Jennifer Van Vrancken is also working on a plan for the Bucktown Harbor; improvements are expected to include 30 acres of parking space, biking trails, a recreational pier, a 950-foot educational boardwalk and a pavilion for programmed activities. Lee-Sheng finished by announcing the City’s intention to use storm water in a positive way, rather than removing necessary moisture from the soil.
“This system does not allow rain water to absorb into our soil. And it’s, of course, adversely affecting our groundwater table,” Lee-Sheng said. “I’ve been a huge advocate for green infrastructure. We want to slow the flow, we want to let that rainwater get into our soil and replenish our water tables.”
She said the way to do this is to decrease the amount of impermeable concrete surfaces, opting instead for a semipermeable surface that would allow water to sink into the soil without posing a flooding risk.
Looking forward, both Yenni and Lee-Sheng are passionate about the same topics. In addition to economical goals, both cited such topics as education, beautification, innovation and, on a more personal level, striving to consider and appreciate diversity in the community. Ultimately, the Jefferson Parish Council and Administration are prioritizing any efforts that will make the area a better place to live and work, while also preparing for evolution in the future.