‘Exciting year’ for Westlake, Interest in debt lowered, casino property annexed, economic district developed

Published 8:42 pm Saturday, June 26, 2021

Westlake officials and city council members clarified and emphasized several topics at this week’s meeting.

The facility being constructed at The National Golf Club of Louisiana will soon provide a dining and event venue experience open to all, not just those who golf at the course.

Residents with hurricane debris piles on their property may be notified to pick it up in 30 days at their expense. And the cost and end result of spraying grass clippings and leaves into drains is high.

Council members also approved a 4 percent cost-of-living raise for city employees.

City Councilman Dan Racca recommended the cost-of-living increase, saying, “We’ve gone over the budget with a fine-tooth comb. We were unable to give them anything last year and want to do something this year.”

Finance director Jerry Milner said the city is still working through the effects of the hurricane, but repairs and structural improvements to City Hall are almost complete and insurance reimbursements are anticipated to cover the cost.

“This is going to be an exciting year,” he said.

Milner reported that the interest on the city’s debt has been lowered and the term shortened to a payoff in five years. The casino property has been annexed and includes a cooperative endeavor agreement that will reimburse them one-third of the sales tax collected only during the construction period.

“They’re giving us a dollar and we’re giving them 33 cents back, but it has to be used for roads, fire protection and so forth,” Milner said. “We’ll monitor the collection and dispersal.”

The Westlake Opportunity Zone, an economic development district has been established and is already commanding some attention from investors. American Rescue Plan monies — $1.8 million over the next two years — will be used for sewer and water infrastructure improvements.

Residents who continue to blow grass clippings, leaves and other trash into the road and drains not only risk causing flooding to roads and homes as extreme weather events are expected to continue; the act drains city coffers. Hardey told council and officials that the cost to clean one drain is about $750. The city has 600 drains.

“It is illegal to blow any grass clippings onto the road and/or into storm drains,” the mayor said. “If you see somebody doing it, just ask them not to. If you don’t water in your house, we’ve got to keep them clean.”

Residents should not expect any help from the city with hurricane debris removal. “That ended nine months ago,” Hardey said.

All remaining trash removal is the responsibility of the property owner. Certified letters will begin going out giving property owners notice that they will have 30 days to remove the debris, or the city will have it done at the property owners’ expense.

“Debris such as shingles should not be placed in Waste Management trash cans,” the mayor added. “I know Waste Management has missed pick up at some houses,” Hardey said. “They will get it. We have spoken with them about the problem. They’re having issues with trucks and manpower.”

Dining experience

“We want everyone to know that the new multi-million dollar facility almost completed at The National Golf Club of Louisiana is not a private clubhouse,” Hardey said. “It’s going to be a nice place that everybody will enjoy.”

Those who want to find out more will be able to do so in October. National Golf Club Manager Gerry Pocket said he is interviewing for the positions of chef and assistant chef this week.

Menu items will soon be tested. The clubhouse is not really a clubhouse, per se because it isn’t private. Nor will it only be for Westlake residents.

The theme will be Westlake-proud and involve digital displays of sports highlights from “way back when” to the present.

Pocket said a burger and other lunch items, as well as higher-end dinner entrees, would be available throughout the day.