City Council takes on blight fight

Published 9:00 am Friday, January 23, 2015

The Bogalusa City Council condemned a building at 218 Alabama Ave. Tuesday night after city officials said the structure was a safety hazard.

Stacy Glen Busby owns the condemned structure. He attended the meeting to request additional time to fix it up.

“Everybody is aware the building went through a fire about a year ago,” Busby said. “It is in rough shape. I would have been more than happy to have come and met with someone to discuss it. I never received a certified letter. I ask you to postpone your vote for one month.”

Bogalusa Fire Marshall Chess Richardson and Fire Chief Richard Moody thought the building needed to be condemned but admitted they had not seen the inside of the building.

“It is dilapidated and dangerous, and I recommend it be condemned,” Richardson said.

“It is a fire and safety hazard,” Moody said.

Councilman Doug Ritchie, who is one of the owners of Poole-Ritchie Funeral Home nearby at 216 Alabama Ave., said the building is an eyesore.

“I haven’t seen him make any effort to clean it up,” Ritchie said.

District A Councilwoman Gloria Kates asked Busby what he planned to do with the property.

“My intention with the building is to salvage as much of the building as I can,” Busby said. “I want to salvage and do it as cost effectively as possible.”

The City Council voted 5-0 to condemn the building, but gave Busby 90 additional days to clean up the property. Ritchie abstained, and District B Councilwoman Tamira Moss-Smith was absent because of an illness in the family.

The City Council accepted a resolution authorizing the hiring of Director of Administration Stacy Smith. She replaced long-time administrator Jerry Bailey, who retired at the end of December.

Council members tabled a resolution supporting Robert Randall’s efforts to construct four new houses, two two-bedroom and two three-bedroom houses, to rent on Superior Avenue. The properties involved are four lots located at 935 Superior Ave.

The motion was opposed by neighborhood resident Wannette Vaughn.

“That’s jamming things up,” Vaughn said. “What concerns me is having that many houses on those lots. We want children to play in their yard. It’s unfair to Superior residents to introduce the resolution and vote on it tonight.”

Two ordinances were introduced Tuesday evening. Those ordinances will be voted on at the next meeting, which is Monday, Feb. 2, at 5:30 p.m. The Council meeting was originally set for Feb. 6, but was changed so council members could attend the Louisiana Municipal Association meeting.

One ordinance to be voted upon is employing Adams and Reese of New Orleans as special bond counsels for the city for one year. The firm is to assist the city in municipal bonds and sales tax revenues.

Also, an ordinance authorizing city officials to issue a budgetary loan application to the State Bond Commission for approval of a Revenue Anticipation Note. The not is not to exceed $1,990,000.

“The note is short-term that has to be paid back within a year,” Smith said.

During the public participation segment, Executive Director of Washington Area Affording Housing Emma Dixon informed the council of grants her organization was looking at to assist elderly residents with their heating through the Energy Wise Alliance.

Dixon was recently re-elected president of local AARP Chapter 432. She said that group is also looking at housing grant proposals. Dixon was also elected to the Louisiana Housing Corp. policy advisory council.

Terry “Foots” Quinn displayed a banner related to the upcoming GM&O Historical Society South End Regional Convention. It is scheduled for Feb. 7 at the old passenger depot on Austin Street in Bogalusa. Audio/visual programs are scheduled as well as a flea market with model trains, artifacts, apparel and more.

Regarding the proposed Washington Parish Reservoir Project that is to be located in the Oak Grove community, opponent Phillipp Bedwell asked the Council to consider how the project could possibly affect Bogalusa. Bedwell recently spoke at the Washington Parish Council meeting with many of his concerns.