Council names new Port Allen street after pastor

It’s now official: A newly built Port Allen street connecting Oregon Avenue to William and Lee Park has been named after a local pastor who advocates for disadvantaged children.

The West Baton Rouge Parish Council voted 7-2 Wednesday to name the new street after Eddie Payne III, marking the second time it voted on the issue.

Council Chairman Gary Spillman told the council that the council’s 3-2 vote at a July 24 meeting to name the road after Eddie Payne III wasn’t valid under Home Rule Charter rules.

Spillman advised that the affirmative votes of at least four members of the seven-person council are required to pass a measure.

Councilwoman Charlene Gordon then again offered her motion to name the street Eddie Payne III Street, which the council approved in a 7-2 vote.

Councilmen Edward Robertson and Phil Porto opposed the motion. Robertson proposed instead to name the street after Isadore Cohn, a deceased landowner who donated land for Cohn High School during the time of segregation.

Several audience members spoke passionately in favor of naming the road after Payne, saying he was a “hero, a masterpiece, a one-of-a-kind.”

Port Allen Mayor Richard Lee and City Council member Hugh Riviere also favored naming the street after Payne. Riviere noted that the City Council had unanimously favored naming the road after Payne.

In other matters, the Parish Council voted to fund a study of the proposed La. 1-La. 415 Connector.

Parish President Riley “Pee Wee” Berthelot told the council he had explored possibly backing another project, the “West Side Expressway” and the Baton Rouge Urban Renewal and Mobility Plan, if the state Department of Transportation and Development thought that plan had a better chance of construction than the La. 1 Connector.

However, DOTD officials said the La. 1 Connector project was further ahead and moving forward, so Berthelot recommended funding an estimated $54,000 of the $270,000 for an updated environmental assessment, a value engineering study and a vessel survey. Berthelot said the general consensus in his meetings with local legislators, DOTD and the Capital Region Planning Commission was to keep moving forward on the connector.