Flood cars not coming to St. John

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Garyville residents hear group ‘definitely decided’ not to use area



GARYVILLE — The seemingly besieged people of Garyville apparently have finally come out on the winning end of one controversial issue in their region.

Owners of the newly-purchased 400-acre piece of property that is targeted as a petroleum tank farm, confirmed to L’Observateur this week that they are withdrawing their plans to accept hurricane flooded cars on the site.

Even though the property was approved as a holding site for the flooded cars, Angelina Group spokesman Danny Guidry told L’Observateur on Monday that their group has definitely decided against allowing the cars there.

&#8220After reviewing the situation, and considering the people in this area, we have decided against allowing DEQ to use our land,” he said. &#8220We have been getting a lot of offers for things to do with that land, but we have decided that we want to keep the tank farm as our main focus.

&#8220Of course another consideration was that we want to be a good community neighbor here, and after the reaction to the flooded cars, we want to show the people here that we’re not all about just trying to do anything out here to make money,” he said.

L’Observateur was the only area publication which reported two weeks ago that DEQ had approved the tank farm land as a holding site for the cars. DEQ spokesman John Rogers said he expected the cars to begin showing up on the site within a matter of weeks.

And even though the Angelina Group had all approval to do just that, Guidry said his organization gave it a second thought after discussions with Parish President Nickie Monica, and Councilman Allen St. Pierre.

&#8220Both Mr. St. Pierre and Mr. Monica asked us to reconsider it, since they didn’t think it would be a good thing for Garyville,” he added. &#8220So now I am assuring the people of Garyville that this is a dead deal, and it will not come back.”

Garyville/Mt. Airy residents have been in an uproar ever since news began coming out that the Angelina Group was heading a group of private investors to purchase the 400 acre tract of land, just to the west of the town.

The land sale has now gone through, and tank farm owners are awaiting their consulting firm the time to secure proper DEQ and EPA permits to build the $140 million facility.

Carl Monica, a top Garyville developer and community activist, said he was glad to see the flooded car issue behind them, but still isn’t sitting still on the tank farm issue.

&#8220The matter of the cars is certainly great news for us,” he said. &#8220And after I saw details of that whole thing, it is bigger than most people think to know the cars won’t come there. But we’re still not stopping in trying to stop the tank farm. We still think we have an issue with the 2000 foot buffer zone.”

Guidry said that he had hoped the deal with DEQ might have helped bring about some other improvements in the Garyville area on Airline Highway, such as a traffic light at the intersection of Hwy. 54, or an acceleration lane there onto Airline. But he said DEQ never contacted them again about either proposition.

&#8220We would have done the cars if we could have gotten something good for Garyville in the deal, but when that didn’t come back, we just wanted to focus on our tank farm. That is what we are doing now,” he said.

As for other offers for using the land before the tank farm is built, Guidry said the group is not considering any other projects at this time, even though they continue to get calls of interest.