Council, board discuss possible transaction

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 21, 2001


EDGARD – The St. John Parish Council may not get its wish to open up a recreational facility on the West Bank anytime soon, since the School Board owns the property the council is looking at and board members are not sure they are ready to give the land up. Council members have set their sites on the old Second Ward School in Edgard, which is currently run-down and overgrown and not being used as a possible future site for a recreational center that West Bank residents could use instead of having to drive to the East Bank for recreation. “It has become an eyesore,” said Board Member Leroy Mitchell Sr., who is a proponent for selling the property to the council for $72,000. “We can take this property and make it a recreation site. “The sheriff is ready to come in right now and start cleaning up that area.” Mitchell had the property appraised at $72,000 and the council has already approved purchasing the land from the School Board. Parish Council Chairman Cleveland Farlough, who attended a Thursday night School Board meeting to discuss the property, said, “Sometime ago I went before the council and asked them to acquire that property, and it was passed 9-0.” Farlough said if the parish purchased and used the land for a recreational facility it would be a golden opportunity for the School Board members and council representatives to work closer together and achieve greater aims for the parish. “We can begin working together for the best interest of the people in this parish,” he said, adding the property has “just gone down the drain.” “It would be a viable thing for the people in the community.” Board member Matthew Ory voiced his opposition to selling the property. “To replace a property of that magnitude in the future will cost us hundreds of thousands of dollars,” he said, adding that $72,000 split over the five years the council would have to pay it off would not benefit the school system. “This is going on because the council of the parish knows it’s getting a great deal.” Other members expressed concern the price was too low, as well, stating it might be beneficial to hold onto the property in the event another school is someday needed on the West Bank. The eight acres and functional gymnasium are something council members think could be used for recreation, but Ory argued the parish has always needed parks and recreation but avoided it. “And now it’s the School Board’s job?” he asked. Board member Russ Wise said he would rather put the property up for public auction than just “give it away at bargain basement prices.” “I’m sorry. The parish does not get a free ride on an interest-free loan,” he said. “It all seems to focus on $72,000,” said Board member John Crose. “A major part of our problem is what happens to these kids outside the classroom.” He added if the School Board loses money for kids to come out and have a place to go after school, then he would be OK with that. “I want to know what kind of figure you put on this,” he said. Board Member Clarence Triche proposed leasing the property to the council for $1 a year until the School Board needs the land again as a compromise, but little debate was made about his motion, which was seconded by board member Ory. Instead, the board voted 7-4 to table further discussion on the resolution until a future meeting.