EFC refers library, park issues back to full councilMay 18th, 2010 | By Chad West | Category: News
The St. Bernard Parish Council’s Executive/Finance Committee has referred two long-discussed issues back to the full council for possible final action. One issue deals with the former site of the parish library, while the other involves ongoing conflicts at Violet Park #2.
After Hurricane Katrina, the parish public library moved from its longtime building at 1125 E. St. Bernard Highway to a trailer on W. Judge Perez Drive. Since then, the parish has relocated some of its offices into the old library building. Parish officials want to permanently keep those offices in the old library building, with the library eventually moving into a portion of the new wing of Chalmette High School.
Longtime library board member Erin Kuehl, though, believes that’s a bad deal for the library. She instead wants the parish to financially compensate the library board for the old property in order for the library board to build a new public library on St. Bernard Highway between Judy Drive and Bartolo, where the board bought property in 2001.
At the center of the debate is which entity owns the 1125 E. St. Bernard Highway property, the parish or the library board. Auderer said the parish water board, which used to be independent from the parish government, sold the property to the police jury, and therefore the property belongs to the parish. The actual library building was paid for by a 1 mill sales tax dedicated to the library board.
Moving the library to the Chalmette High School location, said Councilman-at-Large Frank Auderer, would satisfy the “adequate and equal space” clause listed in the millage ordinance. Auderer also said community leaders have discussed putting an extension of the library in a redeveloped Beauregard Courthouse in the St. Bernard community.
Kuehl maintains the library board owns the property and should therefore be monetarily compensated by the parish for taking it.
“I was there when the act of sale went through and now they tell me it didn’t happen,” Kuehl said.
The Executive/Finance Committee voted to refer the matter back to the full council and asked that representatives of the library board offer an official position at the council’s next meeting, scheduled for May 18.
Conflicts at Violet Park #2
The Executive/Finance Committee also referred to the full council a final decision regarding operations at the Violet Park #2, located on St. Bernard Highway near W. Smith Elementary School.
Over the past few months, several reports of disputes and violence have surfaced regarding activities at Violet Park #2. In addition, park participants reportedly set up their own barbecue pits and concessions instead of buying concessions provided by the parish.
Concessions sold at public parks in St. Bernard go toward underwriting the costs of operating the parks. Barbecuing is not allowed at other parks in the parish.
In past council meetings, heated exchanges between park director Kevin Williams and park participant Gilbert King have occurred. King and Parish President Craig Taffaro have also engaged in heated disputes at times. The council has been wrestling with how to actually diffuse the situation.
One option discussed briefly by the committee was leasing the park to teams who want to barbecue or have independent softball leagues.
All committee members, though, agreed they want the issue resolved as soon as possible.
“I’m just tired of having to discuss this every other week,” District D representative Mike Ginart said. “The fact is we have a new park there with a lot of money in it, and it’s got to have some rules.”
Auderer said he would like the parish’s director of recreation to look at the possibility of leasing the park to individual teams and offer a formal recommendation at the council’s next meeting.
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