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Monroe rental property owner petitions to have bridge repaired



MONROE, La. – A Monroe rental property owner is petitioning to have a drainage canal crossing repaired for the Town and Country community.

The bridge on Holland Drive was removed when renovations began on the Osterland Recreation Center in 2017.

Alan W. Brockman, president of Sunquest Properties, says the community used it to get to the center for years.

Before renovation began, there were two ways to get to the center. Coming from Finks Hideaway Road, which is to the north, is considered the main entrance.

Though Osterland is reopened, there is still a dead end for the people just south of it, forcing them to take a significantly longer route to get there.

“There’s hundreds of kids that get out of Jack Hayes Elementary daily that walk to this subdivision that could walk to this facility. Now, they can’t,” Brockman says. “It’s two miles to go around the other way. There’s no sidewalks for them to get there.”

Ouachita Parish police jury president Shane Smiley says the decision was made by the East Ouachita Recreation District to close the bridge. He says it was to stop traffic flow.

“They decided that they did not want to have the culvert put back in and open their parking lot to thru traffic,” Smiley says. According to Smiley, the center has sports tournaments and other venues booked until the end of 2021.

“I agree with them. It’s a safety concern. It’s a safety issue. They’re going to be having soccer games and baseball and softball games year-round,” he adds.

Smiley says the drainage canal culvert also poses safety concerns that were discovered when it was destroyed.

“The culvert was going to at some point have to be replaced. Our latest cost estimates that we got from our engineer was about $325,000 to take that size culvert and replace it,” Smiley says.

Though Smiley says it is likely not worth paying for, Brockman says it’s a project completing, so the Town and Country community can have access once again to the center, especially the youth.

“I think if you look, quite frankly, at this neighborhood, you look at the actions the police jury is taking, it really doesn’t take much to figure out what they’re trying to do and who they’re trying to cut off from this,” Brockman says.

The Ouachita Parish Police Jury will hold a meeting on Monday, November 23. The jury is expected to vote on whether the bridge will be closed for good.

Brockman says he and several others are planning to voice their concerns at the meeting.