City council adopts redistricting, announces splash pads

By William Midkiff

On the evening of March 7, Ruston City Council had their monthly meeting, during which a new redistricting plan for the city was adopted according to findings from the 2020 census.

City Attorney Bill Carter began discussion of the new plan by briefly explaining its history.

“Based on the 2020 census, two of our districts exceeded the 5% acceptable population deviation – District 1 and District 5,” Carter said. “Our consultant, Strategic Demographics, L.L.C., proposed a new redistricting plan involving the shifting of those boundaries between District 1 and District 5. I think all parties of interest and all stakeholders have reviewed that, and I think it’s acceptable to everyone.”

There was no public comment on the matter, and very little discussion among the council before the ordinance was put to a vote.

The ordinance passed unanimously, and thus, Ruston has officially adopted new district lines.

Several other items of interest were discussed and voted upon during this meeting, the first of which being a cooperative endeavor agreement between the city of Ruston and the newly formed Ruston Community Tennis Association.

The Ruston Community Tennis Association approached the city council with this agreement in an attempt to form a partnership, which would involve two aspects: the beginning of tennis programming for both children and adults and the hiring of a tennis professional to work in conjunction with the association and the city.

The agreement would permit the city to provide access to the tennis courts at the Ruston Sports Complex for the programming, as well as enter into a contract with a tennis professional.

The agreement passed unanimously.

Another item that passed unanimously was a resolution to grant Mayor Ronny Walker  permission to sign all documents necessary for a $400,000 grant to construct splash pads in three Ruston parks: Mayfield Park, Duncan Park, and R.L. Cook Park.

Walker explained that these splash pads would be coming to all three of the mentioned parks, regardless of whether or not the city would receive extra funding.

“If costs continue to escalate, instead of cutting a park out, we hope to make the individual splash pads smaller, to fit into that $400,000 price range,” Walker said. “But we continue to look for more grants for that.”

Carter explained that the grant application was already accepted, and that this resolution was just a matter of procedure.

Continuing the trend of unanimous approvals, a resolution to support the development of passenger railway service in Ruston passed as well.

Walker, who has served on a northern Louisiana railway study group for seven years, explained the resolution.

“We think we’re closer than ever to getting rail service to Ruston,” Walker said. “It’ll be the line from Fort Worth to Atlanta, but then it will continue on to New York City.”

This resolution was created simply to state that Ruston supports any passenger rail service endeavors in the future. These endeavors, if made possible, would allow for the construction of railways through Ruston which the public could use for transportation.

“I’m sure someone out there is thinking, ‘How soon is this going to happen?’” Walker said. “I would say years, not months.”

Several other agenda items were discussed at this meeting, the majority of which were voted upon. All items that were voted upon passed unanimously.

The full agenda can be viewed on the city of Ruston’s official website.

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