Forums showcase public dissent for Parish Seat VoteSep 28th, 2011 | By Terri Sercovich | Category: news
The Belle Chasse Auditorium showcased the final public forum for Moving Plaquemines Forward and the Plaquemines Association of Business and Industry (PABI) on the subject of the Parish Seat vote coming October 22.
Bill Cody, with GCR Consulting, reviewed some of their results and provided a quick synopsis of the sentiments they’d gathered from 300 parish residents.
The data recapitulated the talking points previously brought up at Council meetings and by the public: how the census numbers show a population and housing increase in Belle Chasse and an overall decrease on the Eastbank; that the economy of the Eastbank has also been in decline; and overall infrastructure in Belle Chasse is more developed at the moment. Belle Chasse is not central, but has a denser population.
All of the arguments came back to balancing the majority-population rule, which the census numbers have lying in Belle Chasse, with the needs of the Eastbank and other residents.
One chief example of the data favoring both sides of the debate came with the ferrys. For some, the convenience for Westbank residents not having to cross the river by ferry would also prove inconvenient for those residents in Point-a-la-Hache or Davant and also come at a price for people in Venice, who would spend half a day going to and from F. Edward Hebert. But, if the parish seat was to remain centrally located in Pointe-a-la-Hache, the majority of the Parish would be placed 25-miles or more from the functioning courthouse.
“This is a 100-year decision,” said Norris Babin, member of Moving Plaquemines Forward. “So, vote for where you see this Parish in 100-years.
“Ninety-one percent of our parish’s population lives on the Westbank,” Babin continued. “Point-a-la-Hache only has a population of 187. The courthouse was not an economic boom for the town before it burned in 2002, and it wouldn’t be a boom for the next 100 years. Safety and security for our parish’s records should be the top reason for our choice on Oct. 22.”
Refuting the data
The evening was wrought with emotion on the issue. In fact, most of the residents who spoke publicly opposed the move for one reason or another.
Those at the meeting said that the very reason the population on the Eastbank has decreased and the economy has suffered reflects the loss of the Courthouse. Which is why, for them, it is so pivotal for the Parish Seat to remain in Point-a-la-Hache. By keeping the Parish seat on the Eastbank, these residents offered, the influx that the Courthouse brings would restore the economy of that community and aid in building the surrounding infrastructure.
“Those in favor would have you think we’re going to have a Mayberry subdivision [in Belle Chasse], but I think we’ll end up with a New Orleans street right by our playgrounds and schools,” said Elton Frederick. “I mean, why wasn’t there a study performed on the best site for the jail? Nobody said anything then.”
“Those pushing this have said it was good for the Parish, they say let’s move forward,” resident Connie Cossé said. “What they are really saying is ‘let’s move forward to Belle Chasse.’”
Through all the dissent and debate surrounding this issue, PABI Chairman Mike Ford said the most important thing is to get everyone out, talking and active about the vote.
“We appreciate your opinions, but they don’t matter unless you vote,” Ford said.