Ricks outlines plans for parish  

The long-awaited Juban Crossing development will become a reality, Livingston Parish President Layton Ricks told business leaders Wednesday.

In his annual State of the Parish assessment, Ricks also said he plans to push for creation of a civic center and infrastructure improvements in the parish.

Questions about the future of Juban Crossing, a major commercial and residential development planned at Juban Road and Interstate 12, arose after Gov. Bobby Jindal vetoed legislation to create the Juban Crossing Economic Development District. Developers said the project would create more than 2,500 jobs.

The huge tract cleared for the project midway between Denham Springs and Walker has been dormant for more than a year.

“That project is going to become a reality,” Ricks said of the plan to create more than a million square feet of stores, hotels, restaurants, homes and a movie theater complex.

The details will be announced within a few weeks, Ricks told a meeting of the Livingston Parish Chamber of Commerce.

The Parish Council has backed a plan to use revenue from a 2-cent, local sales tax and 40 percent of drainage and road taxes collected within the development to pay off revenue bonds that would be sold to raise funds for building public improvements at the site.

State Bond Commission approval is still required before the bonds would be sold.

Ricks said another major goal of his administration is to create a civic center, because the parish needs a place for large gatherings such as concerts, trade shows, conventions and the like.

He said he is working with the parish’s legislative delegation on that idea.

Improving infrastructure, including bridges, is also a key to the continued rapid growth of the parish, he said.

Keeping Livingston Parish roads in good repair so people can access major highways is an important job of the parish government, he said.

“Last year, the parish overlaid 27 roads throughout the parish,” Ricks said.

“Wax Road and Cook Road are two roads that are on the schedule for major improvements,” he said.

The parish has had to deal with budget challenges, but has improved that situation by cutting the amount it spends on health insurance for employees, while bringing their wages up to market value, Ricks said.

He said he will continue to fight to get the Federal Emergency Management Agency to pay the parish $50 million to $60 million for cleanup work the parish performed after Hurricane Gustav. FEMA has refused to pay for most of the parish’s cleanup work from that storm.

“I will not stop until we get every dollar possible to pay our contractors and local people who worked diligently day in and day out,” he said.

The parish has the full support on that matter from its congressional delegation in Washington, D.C., Ricks said.