Property owners still searching for answers after being rattled by Donaldsonville pump station project

Property owners still searching for answers after being rattled by Donaldsonville pump station project
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DONALDSONVILLE – Work on a pump station in Ascension Parish has shifted gears from pile driving, but people living and working there are still asking what to do about their damaged properties.

People have reported gas leaks, foundation troubles, and cracks in their swimming pools. As the construction continues on the Donaldsonville pump station they want to know who is going to address their property damage and when.

Kevin Kelly is a 50 percent partner in the development of the Lemann Block Art Lofts at the corner of Mississippi Street and Railroad Avenue. The 64,000 sq/ft building was completely renovated a year and a half ago. Kelly says the $19 million project was a major component in bringing back the historic district and revitalizing the area. Earlier this year, he started getting calls from tenants complaining about cracks in their walls.

“I couldn’t imagine what had been causing this problem because they had been living in it for more than a year with no problems,” Kelly said.

When he got there he says the entire building was shaking. There were cracks found in the ceilings, floors, and walls separating. There is light shining through one tenant’s unit. Damage can be found everywhere you turn.

“We don’t want it to be further damaged,” he said.

It’s one of several historic properties in Donaldsonville that have been rattled and shaken. Video from one homeowner last fall shows how the piano vibrated so badly music started playing on its own and a lamp fell over. Another video shows a chandelier swaying back and forth. The video was taken while crews were driving 45 and 60 foot piles into the earth.

“There are 40-50 houses I’m aware of, the homeowners they just don’t know what to do,” Kelly said.

Those people and Kelly are having trouble getting help for the damage that’s been caused. They don’t have answers and feel forgotten. Kelly says he has reached out to everyone he can think of and after a lawyer for the Bayou Lafourche Fresh Water District visited him, he’s angry.

“He basically told me, well, we can’t take responsibility because we don’t know what’s cased this damage,” Kelly said.

The pile driving on the Donaldsonville pump station project paused a couple of months ago but it’s far from over. Residents and business owners are waiting for what’s next.

“We don’t want to go through another nine months of this pile driving and they need to find an alternative to this pile driving that won’t damage these historic buildings,” Kelly said.

In December, the Bayou Lafourche Fresh Water District said that the contractor, Sealevel Construction is responsible for the methods of construction and has utilized various types of pile driving equipment throughout this project to stay within the acceptable limits of tolerance.

Kelly worries that the historic buildings in Donaldsonville can’t tolerate anymore pile driving and wants someone to address his concerns.

“This is the fastest way to get them fresh water and evidently there’s saltwater intrusion and we fully understand that – we want them to get fresh water – but you can’t destroy this town that’s in a midst of a rebirth.”

He estimates the damage to the Lemann building is about $2 million. While Kelly has insurance, he’s worried about others in the area who don’t have that same coverage.

Work to put the remaining 45 foot piles into the ground will start in the near future.

Over the past few weeks 2 On Your Side has reached out to the Bayou Lafourche Fresh Water District several times and messages have not been returned.

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About Mary Weyand 14613 Articles
Mary founded Scoop Tour with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research. With ample knowledge about the Automobile industry, she also contributes her knowledge for the Automobile section of the website.

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