Parish Council gives CICCI 90 days to demolish 3 buildings

Deidre Cruse

The Iberville Parish Council last week gave Central Iberville Community Center Inc. (CICCI) 90 days to demolish three dilapidated buildings at the old Seymourville Elementary School site and allowed six other buildings to stand.

The parish notified CICCI in December that the buildings constituting the old school on Barrow Street were “derelict” and “constituted a public nuisance,” and ordered them torn down within 30 days. With no action taken, the Ourso administration presented the council with a resolution to condemn the site.

Parish Councilman Salaris Butler of Seymourville, whose mother is chief executive officer of CICCI, however, won his motion to give the nonprofit organization 90 days to demolish two wings and a bathroom facility considered beyond repair and to hold off action on other parts of the old school which he said are in good shape or can be renovated.

He presented a letter from his mother, Eva Butler, who said CICCI has completed an application for a U. S. Department of Agriculture grant and loan program for fund to repair the facility, and has a verbal commitment from a private donor for the funds for the planned demolition work, expected to begin within 30 days.

“We have cleaned up around the facility and reposted signs on the site to warn any resident who might [wander] on the private property of the hazards that exist,” Eva Butler wrote. “...We can assure you that every effort is being taken to protect the public.”

“I have some issues with Mr. Butler representing CICCI,” Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso Jr. told the council. He said there were “ethical issues” with the councilman speaking for and voting on a matter involving an organization his mother heads.

“I am only presenting documents sent to me by CICCI,” Butler replied. He has said his mother is unpaid for her work for the organization. “I saw no reason why I couldn't do that.”

The documents from Eva Butler included a letter from Raymond Groves Jr.; president of the National Minority Contractors Alliance Inc. of Houston, saying his organization intends to lease 14,000 square feet of space at the facility.

“Our intent is to strategically locate a portion of our operations in Plaquemine, LA for the purpose of contracting opportunities available through area businesses and governments for our members while utilizing local contractors, skilled and nonskilled workers,” Groves said.

He said the organization also plans to use some of the space to train workers for construction projects and jobs at chemical and wastewater plants.

“We believe these collaborative efforts will provide a significant boost to the local economy, reduce the unemployment rate, as well as the dependency on social services,” Groves said.

Butler told the POST/SOUTH the group would rent one of two front wings in the front of the site that has served as CICCI's administrative offices and a classroom wing that was in use until recently.

The other front wing would be one of two to be demolished, along with one set of restroom facilities, the councilman said.

The cafeteria, the gym, a second restroom facility and the old home economics building (destined for use as an adult day care facility) would remain, Butler said.