Councilman questions Castro Street 'trailer park'

Deidre Cruse, Governmental Reporter
CONTROVERSIAL PARKING...Iberville Parish Councilman Salaris Butler of Seymourville is questioning why the parish is providing sewer service to three trailers recently relocated to Castro Street. The parish has not issued permits for the trailers, which Butler considers the equivalent of a trailer park.

The parish has provided sewer connections to three trailer homes moved from a defunct trailer park to Castro Street, though parish has not issued permits for them to be located there, according to Parish Councilman Salaris Butler, who represents the Seymourville area.

Butler said he has questioned the Ourso administration about the presence of the three trailers, which he believes constitutes an unauthorized trailer park, since they were moved to the sites in July.

“Almost a month after I brought these to their attention, my question is why don't we have answers,” Butler said. “Why haven't any citations been issued?”

According to Edward A. “Lucky” Songy Jr., chief administrative officer to Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso Jr., the trailers are eligible to be moved onto the Castro Street lots, but the parish has not issued permits for their location there.

Songy said he did not know why the parish's Utilities Department provided sewer connections to the unpermitted trailers, but would look into it.

Butler said the trailers are located on property that Plaquemine Mayor Mark A. “Tony” Gulotta (along with his brother-in-law and their wives) purchased on Castro Street.

After the Iberville Planning and Zoning Commission approved subdividing property there on July 24, Gulotta and his brother-in-law, David Koulpasis, sold the three lots that now are the sites of the trailer homes, moved from a trailer park near Shintech and SNF-Flopam plant sites that was closed earlier this summer.

“The mayor wouldn't allow the trailers to go into the City of Plaquemine,” Butler said. “I'm concerned that he didn't come to me and say he was selling these properties.”

Gulotta said he and his brother-in-law bought a block of land on Castro Street that included two buildings, an old restaurant and a metal workshop, and the block of property that has been subdivided into nine lots.

“I'm just a partner,” he said, and Koulpasis handled the application for re-subdivision at the Planning and Zoning Commission and the sales of the lots.

Before the commission approved the application, he said, they allowed one man to move a trailer onto a lot to help him out.

“We're not interested in having a trailer park there,” Gulotta said.

Earlier this summer, Gulotta and other city officials expressed concern about the possibility mobile homes from the closed trailer park were being moved into the city. Gulotta called for an inventory of all the trailers in Plaquemine to assure they all complied with city codes.

The city, which has maintained water and natural gas lines in the Seymourville area since the 1960s, ran connections from a line across the street to the three lots. The city also provides sewer treatment for Seymourville.

“Nothing happened there that they don't do every day,” the mayor said. He said when someone applies for service within the city's service area, the city must provide it.

Butler said he was more concerned that the parish was providing sewerage service to the trailers, when he was having trouble getting it for other areas of the Seymourville.

“Do you know how hard it is for me to get sewer lines,” he asked. He said the former police jury allocated $100,000 for a sewer project in the area of the old Seymourville Elementary School.

The project has been on the books since before 1997 and the establishment of the Home Rule Charter form of government, but Parish President Ourso had not completed the project, Butler said. He said the project was advertised for bid once, but did not go forward after the bids came up $25,000 over budget.

“But all of a sudden you can extend lines for nine lots,” he asked.

“I'm right here right now, and they're out there today digging a sewer line and they still don't have a permit,” the councilman said in a telephone interview last week.

“Mr. Butler always has issues with the administration because he doesn't always get his way,” Ourso responded.

Ourso said he hopes there will be money left over from a sewer project in the Choctaw area, where the parish is spending $1.1 million to close an oxidation pond “from the old police jury days.”

“If there is money left, we will ask the contractor to take a look at putting in one section of line near the school,” he said. “It needs to have a lift station, which is why it is so expensive.”

Ourso said he has given the Seymourville project a lower priority because it would cost some $150,000 to provide sewerage for five or six houses. By comparison, he said, the $1.1 million Choctaw project will serve 300 to 400 people.

“The Seymourville project is warranted,” Ourso said. “These people are entitled to have sewer...I've been waiting all this time to put it all in one big bundle.”