Group won’t fight pump station plan

The White Oak Landing Civic Association board will not oppose the city-parish’s plans to put an 11.5-foot-tall sewer pump station near the entrance to the subdivision, the board’s president said Tuesday.

The board reached the decision late Monday after hearing from groups of residents who live near the proposed site on Woodlake Drive, Gehl Davis said. The board also heard from residents who live near another site near Beaconwoods Drive that had been floated by board members as a possible alternate site.

But while the board will not fight the city’s plans, it won’t stand in the way of any of the residents who want to fight it, Davis said.

“If individuals want to form groups to do that, we will be glad to help them,” he said. “Our position is that we are there to work with the city to get the best deal that we can.”

Only 43 out of approximately 200 residents responded to an email last week from Davis asking for opinions on the city-parish’s plans, Davis said.

The board had put up signs, sent emails and urged residents to call Mayor-President Kip Holden, Metro Council members and other city officials after they learned late last year of the proposed 25-foot-tall sewer pump station. Federal regulations require that new pump stations be above the 100-year flood level, DPW officials have said.

The new station would upgrade the current one at ground level. The upgrade is part of the city-parish’s $1.4 billion Sanitary Sewer Overflow project, a federally mandated upgrade to the parish’s sewer infrastructure.

After meeting with members of the board, engineers from DPW and CH2M Hill — the engineering firm managing the SSO program — were able to reduce the height of the pump station to 19 feet. Further modifications brought it down to 16 feet.

At a meeting with Davis last week, DPW officials told Davis that the pump station would be 11.5 feet above the centerline of Woodlake Drive, which is set to be raised as part of repairs to the Woodlake Bridge.

“I think we got about as far as we can get,” Davis said of the proposal. “It’s still going to be quite visible at the size they have, but it’s better than 19 feet.”

Davis and fellow WOLCA board members also objected to the location of the pump, which is just behind the neighborhood’s 12-foot tall entrance sign. They suggested an alternate location, near Beaconwoods Drive on land owned by the civic association.

But residents near the alternate location complained, and DPW said that adding a new pumping station would increase the expense of the project and the original pump would still have to be upgraded and consequently raised.

Davis said it would be up to the neighborhood’s residents to decide if they want to continue to fight the project.

“If the residents are interested in this, I am going to have a community meeting,” he said. “They can come and express their desires.”

Davis said he hoped that the height of the structure could still be reduced.

“We are hoping the city will work with us some more on this,” he said.