Keep citizens in loop if reservoir discussed

Published 7:06 am Saturday, April 30, 2016

This week the parish council voted against the existing reservoir plans in the Oak Grove area.

Given the proposal’s unpopularity within the community, within parish government and among members of the state delegation (State Sen. Beth Mizell has authored a bill that, if passed, will kill the existing commission), it seems a safe bet that the Oak Grove Reservoir will not come to pass.

However, members of the parish council and others in the community have said they’re not opposed to another plan somewhere else, so it’s possible the parish could one day yet have a reservoir.

If developers are considering an alternative, they would do well to observe the lesson that is the Oak Grove debacle. Among the common complaints of area residents are twin oppositions to the possibility of government takeover of private property and the possibility of relocating family cemeteries.

This should come as little surprise. The thought of losing family land and relocating deceased family members for the purpose of creating a water amenity for upscale housing developments is a troubling thought for most people.

While engineers might easily determine which streams and landforms are best suited for reservoirs, it takes respected community leaders to inform these decisions and pick sites that aren’t generally populated or well-loved by residents. In addition, if the reservoir is meant to benefit the residents of the parish, then those same residents ought to be considered and consulted prior to even developing a plan.

The parish could benefit, through greater tax revenues, if a reservoir brought in visitors and wealthy residents. Possibly such a project could create jobs — especially in the initial construction phase. However, that revenue won’t be unlimited and if it comes at the cost of great public resentment, then it may not be worth it.