Council gets full agenda at last meeting

DeRon Talley, Editor @dvillechief

The Donaldsonville City Council had its hands full at the last council meeting on July 7, discussing items such as the dilapidated properties, the new fire station and more on the road improvements project. Nonetheless, progress is still being made in Donaldsonville.

In the dilapidated properties talk, those that are in Councilmen Reginald Francis’ district were all tabled due to his absence. However one property was acted upon. The council decided that there will be no extension for the property located at 211 Claiborne Street and Councilman Emile Spano made a motion to instruct the city attorney to inform Walter Dumas of it. The motion was second by Councilman Lauthaught Delaney.

Dumas’ property has been on the city’s list for at least six years, according to Mayor Leroy Sullivan, and it has been trying to get Dumas to tear it down, but as of the last meeting he hasn’t.

Mayor Sullivan said about two years ago the city decided it would tear the property down but because of the way it was positioned, “we couldn’t just go in there and take it down.”

According to the mayor the city got some quotes on how much it would cost to get it taken down safely and it was at $14,000 and at that time the city didn’t want to pay that.

“Now it’s to the point where he hasn’t done anything with it and if the city has to pay that kind of money to tear it down, it will do it and take him to court to get the money back,” Mayor Sullivan said. “He asked for time and we felt he’s been given more than enough time.”

The city attorney was instructed to send Dumas a letter stating he needs to take it down immediately. Dumas asked for an additional 60 days.

Also discussed at the meeting was the approval for the suggestion of the architect for a new fire station in Donaldsonville.

Approved the suggestion for the Fire Chief for the architect fire station. Now we’ll just have to get with that architect and get a contract drawn up and if it’s something reasonable then the council will vote for him to be the architect.

Donaldsonville Fire Chief, Chuck Montero said at the meeting they received applications on April 30 based on qualifications. Of those three were non-responsive, and the others were based on scores.

“We recommend the City of Donaldsonville to the first place team of Domain Design Architecture of Baton Rouge,” Montero said.The council was instructed on how to approve Montero’s recommendation and Chuck Long, City Attorney, instructed the council to not authorize contract, but to accept recommendation and start negotiation.

On a motion by Councilman Charles Brown and seconded by Councilman Spano, the recommendation of the Fire Chief and Committee was accepted of Domain Design Architecture for the new fire station and take it under advisement.

“Hopefully that’ll be done soon so we can get that project off the ground,” Mayor Sullivan said about the process of building the fire station. “I can’t wait until they start building it. It’s much needed and then with the road improvements and the new fire station people will see things are starting to happen in Donaldsonville. I think it’s going to be good.”

As far as the road project goes in Donaldsonville, the council ran into some issues. Councilman Spano brought to Glenn Shaheen, GSA Consulting Engineers, Inc., the issue for concerns with the slope on the sidewalks in front of the Grapevine Restaurant and Midway Grocery.

Shaheen said originally they were going to leave them and not touch them, but the problem comes in on who’s responsibility is it because they are not handicap accessible. Shaheen said the issue is it’s in the city’s right of way.

Spano said it’s not as simple as removing them because of the elevation the sidewalk is built upon. They both have a big slope, but he said “it’s fixable I think.”

According to Long, the slopes are “unauthorized works and it depends on what (the council) wants to do.”

“I don’t think it’s a good idea to have anybody constructing anything on our right of ways, roads or property without our authority because they present some problems in the future,” Long said.

Shaheen said it wouldn’t be as easy getting the sidewalks handicap accessible because of how narrow they are. He said he’d have to take out several parking places and a cost to add the handicap accessibility at about “$2,500 for each one of them.”

Council Chairman Raymond Aucoin said, “If we are going do something we are just going to pull them up.”

Mayor Sullivan said later on the subject: “We’re going to look at that and we’ll make some adjustments to do what is best for the city and minimize liability for the city at the same time.”