Patterson land for school hits snag

PATTERSON, La. — The Patterson City Council deferred action on making city property behind Patterson Junior High available to the St. Mary Parish School Board to build a new school at its regular meeting Tuesday night.

Patrick Skiles, a Bayou Vista attorney the city retained to research the issue, said the terminology of the 1914 act of donation of a 300-foot-by-300-foot parcel of land donated to the city was contingent on the city keeping it for use as a public park or public playground.

Skiles advised the city to not take action that goes contrary to the stipulation. The school system hoped to be given or sold the property to build a new junior high school.

Skiles said the road that runs behind the school on a 70-foot strip was determined to meet the legal requirement for being a road which the council could decide by ordinance to close, opening the way for its use by the school system, Skiles said.

Both pieces of land are behind the junior high school. The larger parcel is used as a practice football field while the 70-foot strip is used as an access to the campus by students.

The council said they want a specific request with details of how the land would be utilized before it adopts an ordinance that would officially close the street.

Mayor Rodney Grogan told Marilyn LaSalle, a school board member who attended the meeting and addressed the council, that the city supports the board’s desire to build a new school.

“We will have a resolution once we see what you have planned,” Grogan said.

LaSalle said that the original desire of the school board was to procure the 300-foot-by-300-foot parcel to build the new school but at some point the board began to realize that might not be feasible. While the larger parcel would be good to have, current plans make the 70-foot strip more critical to school board intentions, she said.

City attorney Russel Cremaldi said he wondered “if the school board is interested in asking the City of Patterson to revoke the right of way to the street.” He cautioned the council not to take any action that would land-lock the donated property.

Councilman Larry Mendoza offered a motion to take the matter up once the school board gives the city specific information about what they want, which was seconded by John Rentrop.

“We need to have at least an abstract view of what (the school board) has planned,” Rentrop said. The motion passed unanimously.

The council also adopted a 2014 fiscal year budget. The previous budget expired June 30.

The new budget is slightly downsized from last year but closely resembles the amended 2013 budget in anticipated revenues and expenditures. Budgeted expenditures are $195,737 less than revenue. The budget calls for a city fund balance at the end of the fiscal year of $21,759,447.

The city forecasts collecting $7,394,259 (down $43,000) and budgets the expenditure of $7,198,422 (down $208,000).

The city is able to drop its debt service payments to $74,551, a reduction of over $106,000 from last year. The budget calls for $607,968 to be spent on highways and streets (down about $56,000) and $297,000 on capital outlay (up about $95,000).

The largest expense was in the proprietary fund, or utility fund, which is budgeted for $2,748,804, about $17,000 down from last year. The budgeted police expenditure was $1,897,272, down about $31,000 from last year.

In other action:

—City manager Dave Lowery said the owners of burned houses at 520 and 524 Main Street as well as a burned mobile home at 133 Shady Grove were sent notices that their homes have been condemned and they need to remove the debris and clean up the property.

—Cremaldi said the process has begun to seize the property across the street from City Hall at 1321 Main Street and have it sold at a sheriff’s sale to satisfy the lien on the property to reimburse the city for its expenses in cleaning the property.

—Councilwoman Sandra Turner said Patterson was one of three cities recognized at the Louisiana Municipality Convention last week for having completed the required surveys, town meetings and reports that are meant to determine what citizens feel about their city and what can be done to improve it.

—Grogan said the city earned honorable mention in the 2012 Community Achievement Award’s competition sponsored by Louisiana Municipal Association for cities within population group 3,001 to 10,000. The mention was for outstanding community improvements in basic services, particularly the water treatment project.

—The council gave approval to a group called Losing 2 Win Again to have a 5K walk/run on Sept. 28 to support its fight against childhood obesity. The race will begin at 8 a.m.

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