Petition circulating to make Watson, LA a city

WATSON, LA (WAFB) - A group in Livingston Parish is in need of some signatures, from people who want to see Watson made a city. It's the second time a group has tried to incorporate the area and they say this time they don't see the proposal failing.

"I didn't get too many people that were against it," said Darla Stegall, a member of the group Neighbors in Action. Stegall is one of the people asking people in Watson to sign a petition to pledge their support of making that part of the parish its own city. "I was very happy with people who just came up and said we've been waiting for this."

According to Gene Baker, another member of NIA, the group collected several hundred signatures from four locations on Saturday. But they need more than 3,000 before the issue can make it on to the October ballot.

Long-time residents may remember a similar effort to incorporate failed in the late 1990's.

"What's different this time is 24,000 people. Where there were 8,000 before," Baker said. "Density generates a little more need for - I call it guidance of growth."

The idea to incorporate developed during talks about a proposed loop. Stegall says because Watson is not an incorporated area, the residents there would have no say in where the path of the loop would go.

"What we need is a voice. We have none, we're just a community," Stegall said. She says the are does need infrastructure, but they'd like a say in the process.

But with more people in the area, they believe they will find their voice.

Gene Baker says Watson already has 144 subdivisions. A study shows by 2040, Livingston will be bigger than Orleans Parish and Ascension Parish. With a majority of people headed to Watson. Baker says those extra rooftops will generate the revenue to run the proposed city.

"A franchise fee on electric utilities based on the number of houses," Baker said. The estimated cost to homeowners would be about $6.25 per month. Baker says that would give them an operating budget of around $500,000. That money would pay for facilities as well as the salaries for a mayor, five aldermen, a police chief and clerk.

Baker adds, none of the people involved with the grassroots group would be permitted to run for any of those positions. He says they just want to see Watson ready for whatever the future brings.

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