Emotions run high as plans move forward for worker housing in Carlyss

By By Lance Traweek / American Press

Change is not easy, especially when a town the size of Carlyss could possibly add 2,500 new people to an existing 4,600 mostly

lifelong residents.

On Sunday, the American Press portrayed what the “man camp” will actually look like, according to an artist rendering and insight from developers in an

effort to help residents understand the pitch.

The development is on the path

toward becoming a reality. It only has one more hurdle after receiving

approval by the West

Calcasieu Airport Managing Board. The airport now must seek

approval from the Calcasieu Parish Planning and Zoning Board for

the project. The item is scheduled to be voted on at 5:30 p.m.

Tuesday, June 17, at 1015 Pithon St. The zoning board will

have to approve a zoning exception for the property, which is

zoned for heavy industrial use. The exception will allow the

property to be used for residential purposes for the duration of

the lease.

It’s commendable the changes to the

lease that the company has made to appease the residents of Carlyss.

Since negotiations

began, several revisions have been agreed upon between First

Flight and the airport board after hearing the public’s concerns.

They include making sure the main

entrance and exit is on La. 27 to reduce traffic on Johnny Jones Road;

requiring criminal

background checks on residents if not done by employers; providing

housing only to workers for projects south of the airport

to minimize traffic on La. 27; using local suppliers, contractors

and labor to the extent commercially reasonable; erecting

a 9- to 10-foot privacy fence between the airport and neighbors

where there is no existing natural barrier; and adopting an

alcohol policy for the protection of the public.

George Swift, president/CEO of the

Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance, has called the

employee village “a safe,

wise way to house the temporary construction workers” expected to

be en route to Southwest Louisiana for the LNG megaprojects.

The Southwest Louisiana Alliance supports the worker village concept and this particular development at Southland Airport.

“We must demonstrate to the industries which are making major investments and bringing jobs to the area that we can accommodate

worker housing,” he said.

No matter where developers put

these employee villages people will be upset with a

‘‘not-in-my-backyard’’ stance. However,

there should be enough language in the contract to protect

residents. The contract needs to convey what the developers promise

they will do, holding them accountable. First Flight needs to put

pressure on the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury as far as transportation

is concerned. They have to make sure that traffic doesn’t

bottleneck.

This is a solution that is

definitely causing growing pains. And yet, these worker villages are a

necessary because there

is not enough vacant housing in Southwest Louisiana to handle the

coming tide of construction workers that the upcoming industrial

expansion will demand.

We’ll have to put our faith in local government agencies to enforce the rules.