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Central residents hope for more with drainage master plan

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Correction: Earlier this week a story aired where Central residents on Hooper Rd were interviewed about a city drainage project on their street. However, it was actually an East Baton Rouge sewage project not controlled by the city.

CENTRAL- The public input meeting in the middle school cafeteria Monday evening left some pining for more details.

"Most of the stuff in there I already know, I've been keeping up with this for years," said Central resident Mike Mannino.

His house took on five inches during the 2016 Flood and believes the real culprit of Central's drainage woes is over-development.

"You can't tell me it's the weather getting worse or something, it has to be development," he said.

His comments were part of Monday's public input meeting for Central's Drainage Master Plan. Answering questions were engineers with CSRS, the company researching and developing the city's master plan for just under one million dollars.

"We're looking at six major streams, identifying problem areas and proposing preliminary improvements," said civil engineer Rebecca Davezac.

Two major rivers, the Comite and Amite almost surround Central acting like a funnel. Improvements to the stream basins inside the city limits will likely include dredging and expanding waterways and about 150 culverts and bridges known as "crossings."

The number and scope of projects likely to emerge from the master plan could take 30 years to complete according to Central's website. CSRS is determining financial options for the city including bonds, state appropriations, and federal grants.

Councilmembers Wayne Messina and Jason Ellis both said Monday the city's 2.5% sales tax will cover the cost with no need for an increase.

Messina said the 12-year-old city inherited a number of neglected waterways when it incorporated out of East Baton Rouge Parish. He added that other projects outside their jurisdiction also need to be completed or repaired like the Comite River Diversion Canal or the weir structure further down the Amite River.

The master plan would also establish a routine schedule for maintenance of the city's drainage system.

"This is so citizens can expect to know when a ditch will be cleaned out in their backyard," said Councilman Ellis.

CSRS will present something of a rough draft in July and ask for more public input. They anticipate completing the final version by September.

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