Aldermen, residents voice concerns about noise, street fighting

Neighbors of a convenience store in Baldwin complained to the board of aldermen Thursday about noise coming from the business.

Marilyn Burgess, who lives next to the Mobil station on Main Street, said since the station has been staying open 24 hours every day, “We are up all night.”

She thanked Baldwin police for addressing their complaints, but “sometimes before our feet hit the floor the music stops. The noise stops. Does the station have to stay open 24/7? If we can get the owners or managers to hire a security guard on the premises?”

The station is owned by Dugas Oil Co. but leased to the occupant.

Burgess said security on the premises “shouldn’t be the Town of Baldwin’s problems. The police department comes when we call, but they have other issues to take care of…a lot of times we’ll call and before they get there it stops.”

Aldermen noted they had seen and heard the crowds and noise from the station.

“I haven’t gone there since they took it over,” Alderman Thor Frederick said. “I’m usually by myself and I’m not going to get out there and pump gas, especially at night. I won’t do it. They don’t support the town, other than their business. The other little store in town down the end, they live here, their kids go to school here, they go to church here. They support the town as a whole.”

“It’s going to get very, very bad,” Burgess added. “There’s been one shooting there.”

Alderman Tony Gibson said the board should decide if it can “make them get security. Security knows the people that come in and report it to the police.”

“He can get a license plate number and report it to the police,” Alderman Mike Lancelin said.

“We have the laws on the books,” Alderman Clarence Vappie put it. “The store can be ticketed, because the noise is coming from their premises.”

Mayor Wayne Breaux said “you can’t go single out them as a business and say ‘you need this.’ You have to set parameters and say any business that does this, this and this, needs to have security.”

Police Chief Gerald Minor said his officers do “as much as we can” but they still need to tend to other complaints.

“We’ve all had enough of it,” Minor said. “Dugas, you can forget that… but I will make y’all this promise tonight, before the next meeting it’ll be cleared up. Now, I have to do it, and if I bring them here before the mayor’s court, whatever they’re charged with, I want the full extent. Put the hammer on them. If that means losing their liquor license, them moving out of town, c’est la vie.”

Frederick, later in the meeting, appealed to Baldwin’s residents to take more pride in their properties.

“Look around where you live,” she said. “Your street, your block, your yard, your ditch. Take some interest in your town. Stop trashing it.”

She encouraged residents to drive around Baldwin. “Do you like what you see? It’s not nice. It’s ugly. The trash, the old cars, the dilapidated houses, the trash in the ditches. It’s up to the community. It’s not the town’s responsibility… the expression ‘I didn’t put it there, I’m not picking it up,’ that’s not how it goes. If you want to have a decent town that people want to come to, it’s up to those of us who are still here to pick it up and clean it up.”

Discussion of Baldwin’s problems with disturbances didn’t end there Thursday.

Minor said there was a function at the town’s community center last weekend, that got “completely out of control. It was carried over to the school Monday. They suspended I don’t know how many kids. Monday afternoon it moved to town. Since Monday we’ve had at least two officers and myself patrolling on Bollard Street, every day.”

Youths are grouping up and fighting, the chief said.

“The same group?” Breaux asked.

“You’re looking at 150, 200 kids,” Minor said.

“Sunday I had to leave my house,” Gibson noted. “We had that many on that block fighting. Parents were out there fighting with the kids.”

Minor agreed, noting, “There were some parents out there fighting with the kids.”

Frederick said she was on Collins Street and had to dodge cars on the street, and there were large groups of girls.

“That’s the ones that’s fighting,” Minor said.

A resident of Baptiste Street noted that a street sign was torn down and her husband put it back up. It was then torn down again and “this time they cut it up to make sure” it wouldn’t be put back up. She said she has handicapped children and is concerned about them, and asked for signage noting handicapped children and a speed limit sign.

“The traffic is so heavy on that street,” she said.

In other business Thursday:

—Breaux said he has received a $30,000 grant from the state Local Governmental Assistance Program for a new roof on town hall.

—No bids were received for a surplus mobile home on the former Baldwin Elementary School property the town now owns. The board agreed to let the Baldwin police reserves move it and use it as a meeting place.

—Breaux said flood protection measures on Bayou Choupique are progressing, with discussions continuing with the St. Mary Levee District.

—The state has approved Acadiane’ Renovations’ low bid for renovation of the Baldwin Elementary School for the fire station.

—Breaux said the state legislative auditor has flagged the town for not having sufficient water rates to make bond payments on the debt owed to construct the town’s water plant, as mandated by state law. He told the council he would be bringing a proposal to correct that by the next meeting.

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