The council will vote to pass a resolution accepting the grant this morning at 11:45 a.m. in the council chambers, just prior to the regularly scheduled agenda meeting.
Haik and representatives from the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation, the LDWF, attorneys for Union Pacific and Eunice were on hand for the presentation, which included an architectural drawing of the proposed facilities.
The grant will be used to drain City Lake, removing the existing fish population, and restocking it with largemouth bass, triploid grass carp, bluegill, threadfin shad and redear sunfish.
Existing facilities will also be revitalized to accommodate those seeking an outdoor recreational refuge within the community. A large pavilion will be constructed space available to the community for private outdoor events.
Other site improvements include the construction of a deck and pier, restroom facilities, picnic pavilions, a nature walk, a welcome center and parking. Repairs will be made to the existing fishing and boat dock, and the existing lake control structure will be replaced.
“This is going to be a facility everyone can be proud of,” Haik said.
In May 2000, a Union Pacific Railroad train derailed near City Lake, releasing hazardous chemicals and materials into the surrounding area in the resultant explosion of two of the rail cars.
Union Pacific later settled for $65 million in a class action lawsuit.
After all claimants had been paid following the incident, residual funds from the settlement with Union Pacific were left in the account. Haik, the presiding judge overseeing the train derailment litigation, awarded the monies to the LWFF to fund improvement projects on the lake.
“After a catastrophe like this, there is a silver lining in this grey cloud. This is the silver lining. It is an opportunity for the judicial system to give back to the community,” Haik said.
“I think the people of Eunice deserve something like this after going through such a catastrophe,” Haik added.
“This is the culmination of a lot of hard work by a lot of people,” said former Eunice City Attorney Jacque Pucheu, who represented the city at the time.
“City Lake is something that a lot of people have memories at and I’m glad to see something good like this happening out there,” said Eunice Alderman Junior Bergeron.
“I’m so excited to see the lake is going to be revitalized for future generations,” Alderman Scott Fontenot said.
Alderman-at-Large I. Jackson “Jack” Burson recalled the train derailment. “I can remember standing at my window and watching what looked like an atomic explosion when the derailment occurred. I sure didn’t realize we were going to end up with a beautiful million-and-a-half dollar lake.”
“At the very moment we have seen over the last two weeks the worst of government in Washington, D.C., you can look today and see the best of government right here in Eunice,” said State Senator Elbert Guillory. “We have shown the world what can happen when we work together.”
Haik said the foundation plans to begin work, “as soon as possible.”
Alderman Roland Miller said Wednesday that after the city passes this morning’s resolution, bids can be let out.
The project is expected to take 14 months to complete.
Haik said he looks forward to coming back when the revitalization is complete, and seeing people fishing and enjoying City Lake.
The full meeting is scheduled to be broadcast on Charter Cable public access channel 16 next Wednesday and Thursday, following the regular broadcast of Tuesday’s City Council meeting.