New Donaldsonville fire station nears completion

Michael Tortorich
Donaldsonville City Council Chairman Raymond Aucoin, at right, gestures during a discussion with fellow Councilmen, including Brent Landry and Reginald Francis (at left), during the Sept. 10 meeting.

The Donaldsonville Fire Department will move into a new home soon.

Assistant Fire Chief Travis Cedotal described the final touches on the city's new fire station, during the regular meeting of the City Council on Sept. 10.

Cedotal, who delivered the monthly fire department report in place of Chief James MacDonald, said the crews are wrapping up the project's last punch list items. Plumbers and electricians are getting the project close to the end, he added.

"It looks like we'll be able to move in next week," Cedotal told the City Council.

He said the city's firefighters are expected to move over soon from the old station at 700 Lafourche Street. The station dates back to 1960.

Mayor Leroy Sullivan Sr. described the project as "99.99 percent done."

MacDonald has said in past comments that the new station has been a longtime project. Construction began in August 2018 after a groundbreaking ceremony at the site.

Donaldsonville voters overwhelmingly approved the renewal of the property tax, which in part, has funded the construction of the station. Nearly 90 percent of voters chose to extend the 5-mill property tax for a ten-year period. It had been renewed before in 2012, after its initial approval in 2002.

The Donaldsonville Fire Department responds to all calls for service within the city limits and throughout the surrounding west side of Ascension Parish. The department's staff includes 33 full-time and volunteer members.

Once open, the 9,500 square-foot station will provide double the space for trucks and equipment, and provide more space for the staff.

City officials plan to hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the opening of the station at some point in October.

Sullivan said the city will work with the state Department of Transportation and Development concerning a traffic signal at the new location.

The station will have access to Church Street and Marchand Drive, which serves as a main throughway in the city. During rush hours, traffic could potentially affect the department's response time to emergency calls.

Cedotal said firefighters will be able to control the traffic signal at the Marchand driveway in such an event.

In recognition of 9/11, Cedotal said the department would hold a ceremonial American flag raising the following morning.

"We'll raise the flag at 9 a.m.," the assistant chief somberly concluded.

In other matters before the Council on Tuesday evening:

--The City Council discussed taking action concerning the frequency of grass mowing along the Hwy. 1 North entrance to the city limits.

Councilman Lauthaught Delaney Sr. requested to amend the agenda to bring attention to the matter.

Sullivan said parish government crews have been mowing the grass along the highway, but they typically cut around each area four times during the growing season.

He added that the parish has been down to two mowing tractors from the usual four.

Councilman Charles Brown suggested using the parish's call center to request the work, and to track progress.

"If they're not going to be able to do it, we should look into the city workers doing it," Delaney said.

--The Council addressed the ongoing problem of illegal used tire dumping in the city.

City officials bemoaned the issue of the nuisance tires piling up in storage spaces.

Council members have said it's important for the public to realize that disposal of old tires in such a manner comes at a great expense to the city. City officials must pay a company to pick up and dispose of the tires.

The city just recently had some 400 used tires stored and removed.

--Sullivan reminded the Council of the upcoming 25th anniversary gala for the River Road African American Museum.

The event will be held Sunday, Oct. 6 at The Water Campus, 1110 S. River Road, in Baton Rouge.

Originally opened in 1994 at Tezcuco Plantation, the museum was moved to Donaldsonville in 2003 following the fire that destroyed the east bank structure.

The anniversary gala will pay tribute to pioneers Madame C.J. Walker and Emmitt Douglas.