Opinion: More to $20 mil refinancing

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Last Tuesday’s Bossier City Council meeting included an agenda item, added to the printed agenda, that will refinance $20 million in bonded funding to move other projects forward.  While this move received some media notice as to how the resultant funding will be used, a little more detail ought to reassure Bossier City voters that city government is on the right track as it concerns Bossier priorities.

That information is provided via a visit with At-large Councilman David Montgomery who has often been helpful in describing the Council’s efforts on the transportation improvement front.

Montgomery explained that this effort is comprised of two components:  “The first is going to be the savings derived from the transportation issue being refinanced, which would be anywhere from $200,000 to $300,000, which will generate … somewhere between $3 and $5 million; that bonded money will be used or dedicated to downtown development, that being purchase of property … road improvements, enhancements for business development …”

Montgomery said a case in point for the business development would be the city’s sale of the old fire station to the Flying Heart Brewery – anticipated to be a draw to this part of Bossier City.

Montgomery said that as it concerns the north Bossier extension of the ART Parkway, the remaining $15 million of the refinanced funding would be paired with $9 million that comes from repayment of funds borrowed from the city’s Riverboat Gaming Capital fund by the Utility Department in 2010, 2011 and 2012.  This repayment is the result of an ordinance adopted by the Council in recent 2015 budget amendment considerations.

That funding combination will provide $24 million for completing the north extension of the parkway, according to Montgomery – who also roughly described the path of this northern railway-free corridor from its current temporary terminus at East Texas Street in front of Louisiana Boardwalk.

“…head north, actually northeast on Highway 80, and we’ve already purchased all that right-of-way on the north side of 80, the northwest side … and we’re going to straighten out that curve in Highway 80, and that will become the first phase of the Parkway extension north.”

Montgomery said that the second phase of the northern extension begins in front of the city’s old police training center on Highway 80, where the overpass will start, continuing in front of the water treatment plant along Old Shed Road, and “… come down and end at Montgomery Lane and there will be a major intersection where you get on to Benton Road.”

And in answer to the timetable question, Montgomery responded:  “Three years, three and a half.  We think in two years, we could probably complete the right-of-way purchases, let the bid for construction and maybe and 18-month construction, so three and a half.”

Completion of the north extension of this project means that from Parkway High School on Highway 71 South to Benton Road, and for the first time in transportation history, drivers could go from south Bossier to north Bossier unimpeded by a railroad crossing.  But it gets better considering the Bossier Parish Police Jury’s plan to extend the roadway south to Taylortown.

For Bossier City taxpayers, the City administration and Council’s consistent efforts to secure the funding and pursue the plan/goal of ever improving transportation is reassuring and promising. 

And it should be remembered that behind an ordinance adopted at a Council meeting is significant due diligence and effort to make these improvements occur.

Also briefly subject of discussion at last week’s Council meeting were a pair of zoning ordinances concerning alcohol sales for a Walmart Marketplace in south Bossier at the intersection of Shady Grove Boulevard and Barksdale Boulevard – which is good news to some and apparently not so much to others. 

Finally, as most know, Louisiana House District 8 Representative Jeff Thompson was unopposed in his bid for a seat on the 26th Judicial District Court bench.  As it happens, his seat in the Louisiana House will be filled by local and well-known attorney Mike Johnson – for whom there was no opposition during last week’s qualifying period.

Johnson reputation promises that he will be an effective and dedicated representative for the district.

Marty Carlson is a columnist for the BPT. She may be reached at martycarlson1218@gmail.com