Historic Commission votes in favor of ACS multipurpose facility

A photo of the ACS plans for a multi-purpose facility that was brought to the Historic District Committee.

The Donaldsonville Historic District Committee votes in favor of the building plans for the Ascension Catholic School’s multipurpose facility at its meeting last Tuesday at City Hall.

ACS brought its facility plans to the HDC at an April’s meeting, but the commission didn’t vote on the approval due to opposition from residents that brought to the attention ACS may not have gotten the proper legal approvals.

ACS received permits and approval from the city, parish and fire marshal to construct the building, but Planning and Zoning Committee chairman Ricky Martin, who attended the April’s meeting, said the school needs to get an application for approval of Planning and Zoning. According to Troy LeBoeuf, Martin’s assertion was incorrect and ACS is legally approved to begin construction, especially now with the blessing of the HDC.

"We are very excited about the new construction of our multi purpose building at Ascension Catholic,” LeBoeuf said, ACHS Business Development Manager. “This building will benefit our students in the areas of education, extra curricular, athletics and our after school daycare program. This facility will attract new families to our school and certainly help with retaining our current families.”

Despite getting legal clearance to begin construction on its facility, ACS faces strong opposition who at least will be able to delay the ground breaking.

“We still have the right to appeal,” Ricky Bergeron said, historic district resident who lives adjacent to the ACS campus.

Bergeron said he and his neighbors didn’t put up any opposition at all at last Tuesday’s HDC meeting. He said they just felt like that was the way it would go anyway, but “we knew we had other options.”

“We’re not totally against the project, we just want the building built right,” Bergeron said. “We’re going to exhaust all of our options. We have the right to go to the council and the mayor.”

Bergeron said his biggest problem with the building is what he claims to be an 85 feet by 28 feet high backside facet of the building that’s going to be sheet metal, which “could be clearly see from Opelousas Street and St. Patrick Street.”

“If myself or one of my neighbors tried to build a home out of that they would not allow us to,” Bergeron said, who also has a child who attends ACS.

According to Bergeron, that is only of the opposition’s arguments. The residents against the building argue the way it’s being built and they believe ACS is building it in phases.

“We don’t want to end up with a half built building in our community, and now that they’ve voted on it there’s nothing they can do once they start it,” Bergeron said.

Other residents have different complaints, but none stand more than the argument ACS’s property is over capacity as it is currently.

Residents Roy Quezaire and Stanley Francis stressed concern that the parking is already poor and a safety hazard at the school during school events. Quezaire submitted a letter to the HDC stating his concerns in the April’s meeting.

Bergeron said he and his neighbors are all going to sit down and decide what’s next for them and they should know their next move soon as time is winding down. He’s also communicating with LeBoeuf to discuss more about the facility and concerns.

LeBoeuf added, “We would like to thank the Mayor, our city councilmen, our city attorney and the historic commission for their support of this building."