Staffer says site ‘unsafe,’ ‘deplorable’
The Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs could be evicted from the local office space that East Baton Rouge Parish leases for it, after raising complaints about the conditions of the privately owned building on North Boulevard.
Veterans Affairs spokeswoman Robin Keller said the office landlord, Arthur Tolar, told Veterans Affairs employees Monday that he was planning to serve a 30-day eviction notice by the end of the day.
It wasn’t clear Monday afternoon whether the city-parish had formally received the eviction letter.
Attempts to reach Tolar, who is registered as the director of 4560 North Boulevard Inc., were not successful.
Veterans Affairs leaders say ongoing issues at the building have included leaky ceilings, moldy surfaces and electrical issues.
Under state law, parishes must provide space for the state Veterans Affairs offices to operate locally.
Earnest Buckner Jr., regional manager for the state Department of Veterans Affairs, said the problems have gotten so bad that the veterans unit has considered ceasing operations in East Baton Rouge due to safety concerns for employees and the veterans it serves.
“It’s unacceptable; it’s deplorable; it’s unsafe,” he said.
William Daniel, chief administrative officer for Mayor-President Kip Holden, did not return a call or email Monday for additional information on the future of the veterans office.
Daniel previously said the city-parish was planning to move Veterans Affairs but had to wait until other offices were moved to make adequate space.
Keller said Daniel was notified about the eviction notice Monday.
“Mr. Daniel replied that he understood and that the parish would work to find an adequate space for the Veterans Service Office to relocate ASAP,” she said.
Buckner told the Metro Council that veterans officials have been trying to get the office moved for nearly three years. He and Daniel both said complaints have been made to the owner about the conditions at the office, which serves about 650 veterans per month.
“We’re dealing with a lot of issues over there. It doesn’t have adequate locks on the building, and there’s tape on the carpet,” Buckner said. “It’s not safe for our employees.”