New downtown parking lot a much-needed new city gem

A portion of the stout iron fence surrounding the new Ponchatoula Municipal Parking Lot. (Times Photo)

By BRYAN T. McMAHON

Pronouncing himself pleased over this week’s completion of the major new downtown city parking lot, Mayor Bob Zabbia told The Times “This has exceeded my expectations.” It is especially eye-catching in the evening when the lot’s polished brass lanterns are lit.

Combined with the new police station complex that replaces the old Ponchatoula Homestead, the downtown improvements are significant and promise to be long lasting.

The mayor singled out for praise the Mandeville and Baton Rouge-based DuPlantis Group, contractors on the project with Foret from Thibodeaux.

Mayor’s Assistant Rhonda Sheridan told The Times that final approval is expected in “no more than two weeks.”

Dogged persistence over four years that began with the city’s $950,000 purchase of the property that was once home to the old Ponchatoula branch of First Guaranty Bank, has resulted in the ultra-modern new Ponchatoula municipal parking lot at the corner of West Hickory and North Sixth Street.

The Zabbia Administration recouped $712,500 in state Capital Outlay funds with assistance from Senator “Bodi” White and State Rep. Steve Pugh.

The public parking lot features a charging station for electric cars and trucks. The Regional Planning Commission on which the mayor serves, strongly supports alternative fueling sources such as this new lot provides.

The classy new 90 space lot is surrounded by stout steel fencing, gardens, and benches. The new parking facility was funded by a $666,667 Louisiana Capital Outlay Grant with a city match of just $166,667.

It is a major, much-needed facility that is a big feather in the cap of Mayor Bob Zabbia and his team.

In addition to giving a major boost to the Chamber’s downtown Antique City commercial development, the parking lot stands to help benefit the city’s two major downtown special event venues, Le Fleur de Lis, and Chesterton Square.

Mayor Zabbia tapped the same source of funding that is fueling the construction of Ponchatoula’s new police complex centered on the former Ponchatoula Homestead site on West Hickory and North Sixth Street – the state’s Capital Outlay Fund.