City to purchase Talley property

By Derek Albert

St. Martinville – Property that has been vacant for years near the city’s historical downtown will soon be getting a face lift compliments of city officials.

Mayor Thomas Nelson announced at the council’s April 20 gathering that the council has unanimously agreed to allow him to enter into a purchase agreement for the nearly six acres of property that runs along the Bayou Teche and Madison and Columbus Streets. The site was once home to the J.B. Talley Contracting company. The grand total for the property is approximately $270,000, Nelson said.

“God’s not making anymore land so we’d better get our hands on this,” Nelson said. “Especially because, in the vicinity of town you won’t find six acres anywhere.”

The property also includes an L-shaped portion of property that borders Columbus and Railroad Streets and the Bayou Teche where a train depot once stood. The previous owner agreed to sell the property for what he still owned on it at $22,000 rather than the appraised amount of $40,000.

The Department of Environmental Quality advised Nelson and the council that even with the property being previously contaminated, the problems should be now alleviated. Officials with Icon Environmental Services of Baton Rouge have been charged with the task of cleaning the contamination caused by years of improper disposal of vehicle fuel, oil, lubricant and other petroleum products.

The mayor said all but one of the wells used to monitor the diminishing contamination has been determined to be 100 percent cleaned, but this should be no major setback.

“The contamination is more under the street than anything else,” the mayor said. “The well has to hit a certain level (of contaminants) three times and the place would be completely cleaned.”

So far, the well has tested below the minimum amount of contaminants twice.

One of the first jobs to be done on the property will be to plug the multiple testing wells. The money used to complete that project would come from the “super fund” dedicated to the clean up of the property.

“That will not cost the city a dime,” Nelson added

New Commerce

Nelson said the city would attempt to revive the J.B. Talley office building that stands abandoned along the bayou side. He suggested that the structure may be used as a nearby annex to City Hall.

The old pecan shed, as Nelson calls it, facing New Market Street has prospects of becoming a flea market where purveyors can purchase stalls to peddle their wares.

Though the idea of establishing a RV park on the site had seemingly been disposed of, Nelson said using the property where an old moss gin once stood will be a future RV park that would consist of 20-30 RV spots. “People could walk to Main Street from there,” Nelson foretold. “I believe that would help our businesses, especially our restaurants. People could park their RVs and they wouldn’t even need a car; they would be in walking distance of Main Street and our historical district.”

City workers will do the work to amend the property rather than have private contractors do the work, Nelson said.

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