Former Second Ward School targeted as civic center

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 17, 2009

By David Vitrano

EDGARD—The topic of disused school properties was a hot one at Thursday’s St. John school board meeting, held at West St. John Elementary School in Edgard.

At the invitation of West Bank School Board Representative Russell Jack, two members of the West Bank Civic Group attended the meeting to speak about the old Second Ward School property in Edgard. Jack said he also is a member of the organization.

Larry Sorapuru and Josephine Jackson told the board it is the desire of the group to obtain the property and possibly restore the building. After renovations, the group intends to make the former school into a civic center for the community.

As a civic center, the property would feature community healthcare and job training, they said. They also expressed intentions to reserve part of the property for the creation of a museum that would highlight the history of the west bank of St. John Parish.

Board President Gerald Keller said, “This would be great for the West Bank,” but he recognized certain obstacles might stand in the group’s way.

The board asked its attorney, Lloyd LeBlanc, what its options were regarding the property.

He said the first step would be to get the property appraised so that the costs of demolishing the property versus restoring it could be weighed. After that, the board could decide whether to keep, sell or lease the property.

“The best option would be a sale,” added LeBlanc.

After that the discussion turned to the former Woodland School.

Board Member Matthew Ory said the school currently is being leased to a religious organization. He said he thinks the organization is doing a good job of maintaining the property and would like the board to look into options to ensure the property does not end up in a bidding process, presumably so that it does not fall into the hands of a neglectful owner.

Earlier in the meeting Board Member Russ Wise brought up the topic of disused properties when he asked a representative from the consulting firm CSRS if they could send people out to assess the two old West Bank properties.

She replied that as soon as the firm was supplied with the addresses, the visit would be made.