The eyesore is no more

One day after the City Council approved an ordinance designating $500,000 from American Rescue Plan funds to demolish eight properties, including Hopewell Apartments on Second Street at a cost of $153,540 by Regional Construction, the eyesore was reduced to a pile of rubble. While that makes it sound like a quick process, the two-building complex formerly known as the Summertree Apartments has been a thorn in the side of at least two city administrations. The saga of the apartments began in 2016 when the La. Housing Corp. said there would be a $4.5 million renovation of the apartments to house homeless and homeless veterans. Shortly after summer began in 2017, renovations came to a halt when the first contractor quit and the property continued to fall into disrepair until the sitting council began the move to demolish in July 2019. After much legal action, orders to condemn, orders to resuscitate and more orders to condemn and demolish, the building finally came down Tuesday, Oct. 25. Nathan Wilson

Council approves Hopeville demolition while also discussing mobile home park variance
Carolyn Roy
The City Council seems amenable to amending the mobile home policy after discussion at the meeting Monday.
The current mobile home policy prohibits creation of a new mobile home park and expansion of an existing one in the City limits.
It also requires that replacement mobile homes be no more than five years old.
James Gosslee of Shreveport talked to the council during the pre-meeting about his plans to expand a current mobile home park. He is an owner of Gosslee Property Management that hopes to buy six acres adjacent to the Mayberry Mobile Home Park on the Hwy. 1 Bypass. He proposes adding 24 lots and new mobile homes over time that are “reasonably” priced at $50,000 each.
Planning and Zoning Director Shontrell Roque said that his request was in violation of the current ordinance since it prohibits expansion. City Councilman Eddie Harrington told Gosslee that now a variance is prohibited. “Right now, the ordinance says no way.” Harrington stated that he believed the ordinance is too restrictive.
Gosslee was at the meeting to see what the mood of the council was toward granting variances.
During the regular meeting, the council upheld a decision of the City Planning and Zoning Commission that denied a request of an age variance for units in Carter’s Mobile Home Park at 1815 South Drive. Matt Galofaro and Daniel Simmons spoke for owners of Real Estate Holdings, a company that owns 600 mobile home pads in several states. The company specializes in refurbishing quality pre-owned mobile homes and selling them for between $40,000 and $50,000. They described the units as nice, of quality and built between 1996 and 2000. They are HUD certified and sell for $500 a month and lots rent for $250 a month.
They said that adhering to the City ordinance requiring replacement homes to be no older than five years would make it impossible to sell their units in their desired price range.
Simmons said they tried to sell one in the $60,000 market after purchasing the park in July but there was no interest. Thus their decision to sell the older pre-owned homes.
In parks where they own mobile homes that they sell and rent, they encourage other homeowners to improve their property by painting and adding skirting. Galofaro said it was not the age of the units that mattered because new units “are not that great” and older ones are better.
The proposed lot sizes in the park are below current ordinance minimum sizes.
The men said they were unaware of the City’s mobile home policy when they purchased the park.
Councilman Eddie Harrington said he believed the current mobile home ordinance is too restrictive but he would not vote for the variances at the meeting. He advocated examining the current ordinance. The other four councilpersons agreed and voted to uphold the planning and zoning recommendation.

Hopeville Apartments, also known as SummerTree Apartments.
Times file photo

Another request for variance cannot be presented to the planning and zoning commission for at least six months.
In another planning and zoning item, an administrative error prevented a final vote on a request from Dr. Rand Metoyer. The ordinance read that 516 Keegan should be zoned commercial which was incorrect. Metoyer requested that 516 remain residential and another property at 329 Keegan be zoned B-A or commercial. City Attorney Alex Washington said that rather than amend the ordinance, it should be corrected before being presented for a vote. It can be voted on at the next meeting.
The council adopted a planning and zoning ordinance to change zoning from B-3 Commercial to B-3 Commercial with additional B-A zoning at 7096 Hwy. 1. Bypass. Morgan Papillion wants to open a sports bar named the Frat House.
The council cast affirmative votes on the following ordinances that were introduced at the Oct. 10 meeting:
•Will lease property at Natchitoches Regional Airport to Air Data Solutions for $1,500 per year
•Will lease property at airport to La. Agricultural Finance Agency Agreed for $750 per month for 10 years
•Awarded bid to Premier Chemicals in amount of $.265 for caustic soda
•Adopted cooperative endeavor agreement between City, Red River Waterway Commission and Natchitoches Convention & Visitors Bureau to promote Kingkat Fishing tournament in April of 2023
•Approved designating $500,000 from American Rescue Plan to demolish eight properties including Hopewell Apartments on Second Street at a cost of $153,540 by Regional Construction
•Will lease from Union Pacific Railroad property on Mill Street that is the entrance to the water treatment plant; $2,360 annually
The council introduced the following ordinances that will be voted on at the Nov. 14 meeting:
•To award bid for wastewater collection system rehabilitation Keyser Lift Station for $561,194 from Womack and Sons Construction Group LLC; the structure is about 40 years old; $480,000 will be paid by the State
•Approved Cooperative Endeavor Agreement between the City and La. Dept. of Treasury for $75,000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters Program; the money was secured by Sen. Louie Bernard for the adult-youth mentoring program
The council adopted the following resolutions:
•Authorized one-time salary supplements of $500 to City employees for full-time and $250 for part-time and $500 to City Council members
•Approved utility easement and right-of-way for water flush assembly and water lines on Peninsula Drive to move closer to natural drainage
•Authorized Mayor to adopt details of LCDB program
•Adopted resolution of support for application for Community Water Enrichment Fund