Police jury hears debate over wetlands restoration project

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - The Calcasieu Parish Police Jury voted unanimously in objecting to a controversial wetlands restoration project being proposed at the end of Lisle Peters Road in Lake Charles.

Stream Wetlands Services Company is proposing to utilize 350,000 cubic yards of dredged material to create 165 acres of marsh, while enhancing another 55 acres, to restore the Old River Mitigation Bank.

But nearby residents are opposed to the project for a variety of reasons. On Thursday evening, they voiced their concerns to the police jury.

"We're going to have airboats. We're going to have noise. We're going to have everything under the sun right in our backyards," said Phillip Guzzino, a longtime resident of the neighborhood.

"I have a little boy that is the sweetest little human you've ever met on the planet," said one female resident. "I'm so concerned about him growing up near dredged material being dumped right there for 10 years."

But the company building the project says residents should not be worried.

David Richard, Executive Vice-President of Stream Property Management/Stream Wetlands Services Company, said the project will not have a major impact on the community.

"[We're] doing a good thing for the marsh, a good thing for coastal Louisiana and this is a good thing for all the citizens of Calcasieu Parish," said Richard.

After listening to a spirited debate from both sides, the police jury sided with the residents.

"There's so many things right now that haven't been resolved," said Calcasieu Parish Police Juror Kevin Guidry.

But police jury members acknowledged that any decision they took would be largely symbolic, since the Army Corps of Engineers will have the final say about the project.

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