Photo by Bobby Ardoin
Opelousas Mayor Julius Alsandor admits the city still has problems, but as a re-election campaign is being launched, he claims his administration has made some notable progress.
Water leaks still sprout underneath streets and the overall condition of Opelousas’ streets is still questionable but the issue is being addressed with overlay projects, Alsandor told the Opelousas Rotary Club last week.
City auditors admitted recently Opelousas’ financial stability has improved dramatically and Alsandor said the city now qualifies for grants that require matching funds.
The Rotarians peppered Alsandor with questions about police protection, recreation, street improvements and vacant buildings in the downtown area.
Alsandor reiterated as he has for several years, that the city’s overall quality of life is tied to the city’s water system and sewerage treatment upgrades.
Opelousas is spending $2.1 million in capital outlay funding for water meter replacement and another $500,000 for water system improvements. Street and drainage is being enhanced with $1.5 million, according to an information brochure Alsandor provided for the Rotarians.
Grant projects underway include $2.18 million for water, the information pamphlet indicated.
There is also $2.9 million in American Rescue Act money allotted to the city, said Alsandor.
“We’ve gotten approval for $8.5 million in grants over the last two and a half years. We have not have that many in quite some time. But grants require matches (in city funding) and to get them the city has to pay its share,” Alsandor said.
The Recent Audit
In March city auditors assigned an “A” grade to the city’s finances and Alsandor said his administration has worked its way down from 20 citations in 2019 to four during the budgetary year that ended Aug. 31.
“We feel about what we have been able to do and we have been able to put some money away for our financial concerns. No longer are we spending money with no accountability. I assure you the city has come a long way in putting itself in a better financial situation than when I came into office,” said Alsandor.
How About Vine Street?
Alsandor said resurfacing and improving Vine Street from Bullard Street to Interstate 49 could cost as much as $40 million.
The state Alsandor noted, has patched up areas of Vine Street over the last year, but the cost for the overall project has escalated due to water line relocation. The water lines on Vine run down the center of the roadway, said Alsandor.
At this point acquiring property to relocate the lines has proven to be too costly an idea.
The Water Leaks
Problems with breaking pipes are rampant mainly due to their age, said Alsandor. There are about 35-40 leaks currently and the matter is ongoing, Alsandor pointed out.
“You fix one and there are two more that break,” added Alsandor.
Cameras For Protection
Alsandor said the city will begin unveiling security cameras at what he said are strategic locations, as a crime deterrent.
The cameras paid for by $200,000 a law enforcement grant, will probably be located on all entrances to the city, said Alsandor.
Conversations by city officials with families who own downtown business-area property are ongoing, according to Alsandor.
“We have spoken with several family members and we have asked them for their plans for these buildings. We have told them that we just want to make sure that the city has a voice in those plans,” Alsandor said.
The former Bordelon Motors Building across from City Hall is under renovation Alsandor said, but what the owner is planning to do with the site is still uncertain.
Four or five proposals for the city-owned New Life Center on East Landry Street are being reviewed, said Alsandor.
“We have had several nibbles. One of them is a proposal for a charter school coming in there. We are going to look at the proposals April 25,” Alsandor said.
Recreation and Parks
Alsandor said the city is affiliated with the Lafayette Little League program. Youths also have chances to play Biddy Basketball and take tennis lessons.
A recreation-conference center with at least one gym is also being planned for construction, added Alsandor.