Port Allen officials taking fresh look at annexation

Interim Mayor Lynn Robertson asked the City Council to revive a push Wednesday to extend the city’s limit out to La. 415 through annexation by giving her authority to hire outside legal counsel to evaluate the process.

The council during its committee meetings Wednesday night seemed eager to support Robertson’s effort.

However, a vote on the proposal won’t be entertained until the City Council’s regular meeting next week.

Robertson reminded council members the city had made major headway in its effort to annex the north end of Court Street to La. 415 before she left office in 2004.

“It’s one of the items that was identified in the city’s Master Plan — to protect that area from commercial and industrial development,” Robertson said.

“We almost had that done, but it somehow got lost between mine and Derek Lewis’ era,” she said. “I want to contact the attorney that worked on it before to see if he still has all the files and see whether he’s interested in getting it going again.”

Councilmen R.J. Loupe and Ray Helen Lawrence expressed interest in the mayor’s effort but reminded Robertson there were some objections at the time from residents living in “Stick Alley,” a small subdivision along the corridor.

Robertson said many of them back then signed a petition supporting the annexation.

“I think we have all those files somewhere. We just need to find them,” Robertson said.

Another item the council will consider next week is Robertson’s request to hire an architect to evaluate the structural integrity of the old City Hall building located on N. Jefferson Avenue.

The derelict structure, which, at one time, also served as the city’s fire station, has become an eyesore possibly plagued with mold and asbestos.

City leaders have been pondering possible uses for the building for years, but those efforts have been stymied by a protracted legal battle with a local family who still owns a portion of the property.

Loupe said the family donated the property to the city for use as a fire station — a point of contention in the city’s pending lawsuit with the family.

Lawrence said the city is seeking grant funding to help finance the building’s renovation into a new police station for the Police Department.

“Even if you get the grant, you’ll have to do an evaluation of the property before you can do anything,” Robertson said. “I thought by doing this we can get the ball rolling. I don’t want to see it sit there forever.”