By Josh Beavers
A city lives and dies by its infrastructure. A poor infrastructure will spell the doom for any town. Conversely, a city that invests in, maintains, and plans the improvement of its infrastructure will fly high.
And that’s why Minden Mayor Terry Gardner is making infrastructure improvement a top priority.
Gardner sat down with The Journal last week and went over the laundry list of city infrastructure improvements either already underway or in the works.
“Without a doubt, infrastructure is vital for our community’s growth,” the mayor said. “Our population is roughly 12,000, but with what it is happening on either side of us, we stand to see a population growth of more than 5,000 in the next seven years. It is vital we meet the needs of the people who will want to move into our community.”
Gardner says the influx of population will be due to several factors.
– Hunt Forest Products which will bring 500 new jobs to the area as well as spur numerous other associated business each of which will also bring jobs.
– The interstate interchange by Louisiana Downs which will make a trip from Barksdale to Minden only about 20 minutes.
– The continued growth of Camp Minden as a training hub for military, police, and fire departments from all over the nation.
The city is working on a new subdivision because all the new arrivals to the area will need homes. And Gardner wants Minden to be the place each of them decides to put down roots, send their children to school, support the local economy, and keep Minden moving forward.
The city is also working with the state on widening and overlaying Sheppard Street which will help make the road safer, smoother, and spur economic development on the corridor. The road work will also help alleviate truck travel downtown which will save the brick streets and make the area safer for pedestrians.
Infrastructure also aids economic development. And as reported last month, the city has seen a large spike in new and renovated businesses. The latest addition to the community, Burkes Outlet, is just one of many new businesses that have been brought in under the direction of Economic Development Director Phillip Smart.
Several years ago, an accident while the state was working on the I-20 interchange left the exit in the dark, literally. The lights were ripped out and the exit is not safe. Gardner said the city is working with the state to bring back the lights not only for safety reasons but to show travelers that Minden is open for business when they decide to seek fuel or a meal.
In addition to street overlays already underway and upcoming, Gardner said the city is soon to launch a massive renovation and expansion to the city’s water system. The list of all the improvements is as follows:
Water Distribution Improvements at Cheney Street – $75,000
Water Distribution Improvements at Myers Street – $50,000
Water Distribution Improvements at West Union/Green Streets – $75,000
Water Distribution Improvements at South Street – $150,000
250KW generator for the Clerk Street Water Plant – $92,751
Water Well Replacement – $1,063,000
Backup power generator for Murry Water Pump Station – $ 75,000
Downtown Water Tower Refurbishment Project – $500,000
Water Main Replacement from Water Plant to under railroad tracks at Depot Hill – $400,000
Inflow and Infiltration Study of the Wastewater System – $300,000
Return Sludge Screw Pump Replacements – $264,000
Degritter Pump Replacement at the Wastewater Treatment Plant – $97,000
Replace Robertson Wastewater Lift Station – $650,000
Gardner said that no matter what comes Minden’s way, the city will endure, adapt, and thrive. Even in the face of a world still grappling with the Covid Pandemic, Minden is going strong, growing, and planning for the future.