Slidell Council District C

Three questions were presented to each of the candidates. Here are their answers.

1. There are two issues that impact virtually everyone in St. Tammany Parish and especially Slidell – problems with household water quality and drainage.  Both of these are essential for a safe and healthy quality of life.  What are your plans to address these issues?  Please be specific.

Megan Spilling Haggerty

Fortunately, District C has not been affected by the water quality crisis found in neighboring Districts.  We do, however, have a drainage issue.  With a minor rainstorm, water can collect in the streets in neighborhoods like Bon Village and, in some cases, reach halfway up the yards.  I would work with the city’s Department of Public Works to assess the situation and determine what changes need to be made, possibly increasing the size of the culverts, or just clearing out any blockages in the existing system.  Whether small or large, I will insist on an appropriate solution to correct the drainage issues concerning District C.

Gnanse Nelson

To my knowledge, issues with household water quality primarily affect areas outside City Limits, and the City of Slidell has a high-functioning water system.  Drainage, however, is an ongoing battle.  Without taxpayer-funded levee construction, fighting storm surge and other incursions of floodwater is difficult.  The City must prioritize maintenance of the existing drainage system, control growth so as not to exacerbate the problem, and continue to work towards funding for broader protection.

2. The trend nationwide favors on-line shopping over shopping in a “brick and mortar” mall. The closure of mall stores creates many problems. These stores are susceptible to vandalism; there is a loss of tax revenue; and the are is seen as a “ghost town” which drives other businesses away. This is an important issue that must be addressed. What are your plans to rehabilitate the closed malls in Slidell?

Megan Spilling Haggerty

I would support Slidell starting a Redevelopment Program to help reduce the number of empty storefronts in the City.  The program would offer incentives to businesses who remodel and rehabilitate existing structures instead of building new ones.  This would increase city beautification and citizen morale, but also stop vandalism, vagrancy, and prevent hubs for additional criminal activity in the area.

Gnanse Nelson

Mayor Cromer has made several overtures to the owners of the mostly closed Northshore Square, but has been rebuffed; unfortunately, as the company is foreign-owned, the decision-makers are largely unconcerned and have no personal stake in our future.  That facility has great potential for a variety of uses, and we must continue to seek either a buyer or tenants to bring it back into commerce.  As for the old Outlet Mall, a similar situation is in play.  For years, the City allowed the overdevelopment of retail space and now we are paying the price with fallow storefronts.  I will work with the Council Members who represent those districts and with the Administration to foster an economic environment that attracts clean business that fits our community and our culture.

3. The downside of economic development is that it results in localized traffic congestion.  How do you propose to be proactive to avoid traffic problems?

Megan Spilling Haggerty

Infrastructure must be addressed before development can be approved.  A common problem, especially in Louisiana, is putting the cart before the horse regarding infrastructure.  Slidell must evaluate the existing roads and their capacity, make necessary upgrades, and then approve pending development projects.  Having top-notch infrastructure increases productivity by enabling businesses to operate as efficiently as possible.  Economic development will flourish in Slidell if appropriate measures are taken in the planning process to reduce traffic.

Gnanse Nelson

All new developments in the City should come with a professional traffic study that should be submitted to City Hall with permitting applications.  The Administration and Council should continue to prioritize infrastructure improvements, and should advance relationships with the state DOTD and federal partners, which fund many needed improvements.  I will always put traffic infrastructure high on my priority list, and will work with the Chief of Police to fully understand where areas of congestion are located so they can be addressed.