Concrete blocks, chain links disrupt parking, etc. | Local News Stories

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Concrete blocks appeared last week along St. Peter Street, blocking the access to a parking lot used for decades to supply businesses along Main Street. The back door of 10 Main Strett businesses, including Victor’s Cafeteria, NILA’s Bourbon Hall, DJW Insurance and KANE Radio, all have access to the lot.

A chain and padlock now prevent trash and delivery vehicles from accessing the rear of businesses in the 100 block of Main Street. The businesses now have to use either a narrow alley off Iberia Street to haul their trash and take in supplies or bring those materials through the front doors of their places of business.

Concrete blocks appeared last week along St. Peter Street, blocking the access to a parking lot used for decades to supply businesses along Main Street. The back door of 10 Main Strett businesses, including Victor’s Cafeteria, NILA’s Bourbon Hall, DJW Insurance and KANE Radio, all have access to the lot.

A chain and padlock now prevent trash and delivery vehicles from accessing the rear of businesses in the 100 block of Main Street. The businesses now have to use either a narrow alley off Iberia Street to haul their trash and take in supplies or bring those materials through the front doors of their places of business.

The street access to a parking lot near the corner of Iberia and St. Peter streets has been blocked with a row of concrete blocks, looking more like dragon’s teeth on a Normandy Beach on D-Day than part of a southern city’s downtown. Where there are no blocks, links of chain are padlocked across to block access.

The move is the latest escalation in ongoing negotiations between the property owner and the merchants on the other side of the city block facing Main Street. The back doors of 10 Main Strett businesses, including Victor’s Cafeteria, NILA’s Bourbon Hall, DJW Insurance and KANE Radio, all have access to the lot. While there is a narrow access lane between a fenced-in parking lot and the Essanee Theater on Iberia Street, it is not wide enough for emergency vehicles like fire trucks or electrical basket trucks nor is it wide enough for trash or delivery trucks.

That can cause problems for businesses like Victor’s and Bourbon Hall, where a lot of trash is generated and deliveries come daily.

“Republic Services came the other day, so they unlocked the chain to let the trash truck come in,” Victor’s owner Victor Huckaby said. “When the guy from Republic asked (a property owner) if they would be allowed back in, he said, ‘Absolutely not.’ So the Republic guy took the dumpster away.”

Instead, the solid waste company provided Victor’s with three wheeled trash cans, to be collected twice a week.

“We were going to have to put them out front, but the city said we couldn’t do that,” Huckaby said.”So now the guys from Republic will have to wheel them down the alley to the truck. But we have only had them a day and a half and they are overflowing. I called them and said we’ll need at least six cans.”

In the past, trucks also could access the rear of the Main Street businesses via the Wormser’s parking lot on Iberia Street. The erection of a chain link fence around that lot, however, left only the narrow alley next to the Essanee Theater on the Iberia Street side and made the St. Peter Street parking lot access the only way for trucks to get to the businesses.

Huckaby said the previous owner of the parking lot and the building at the corner of St. Peter and Iberia streets, Edmond “Ray” Himel, made a handshake agreement with his father years ago over the access. When Himel died in 2012, his children took control of the property.

“Years ago, (Mr. Himel) came to us,” Huckaby said. “He said, ‘We’re going to tear it up and repair it.’ He told us an amount and we paid it. It was a handshake deal.”

“I don’t know what they’re going to do,” Huckaby said. “They produce a lot more trash than I do.”

According to Ed Landry, attorney for property owner RNL Properties LLC, the company the Himel children control the property through, negotiations over access the lot are underway, but the blocking of access is so his client can make repairs to the lot.

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“He has to cut it off because they are about to come in and tear up all the concrete,” Landry said. “He’s got to block it off so the work can be done.”

Huckaby, who said the negotiations over the access have been going on for at least a year, expressed doubt over Landry’s explanation.

“I haven’t seen anyone out there taking measurements,” Huckaby said. “If they are going to do any work, it’s going to be a month — at least — before they start.”

Burton Cestia, attorney for Huckaby, said he and Landry were in talks to find some common ground between the businesses and the property owner — hopefully ground wide enough for a heavy truck to pass.

“Ed and I are trying to work something out,” Cestia said. “His client has an interest. My client has an interest. We’re looking for something that is amicable.”

Although the lawyers are optimistic and insist there is nothing contentious in the negotiating process, Huckaby said the business owners have made overtures and offers to the Himels but have yet to receive any sort of counter offer or real negotiating points.

“We made the offer a year, maybe eight months ago, to pay for repairs and a monthly fee for the right to pass,” Huckaby said. “Plus we offered to maintain the lot if damage is done to it. They never came back. We can’t meet their demands if we don’t know what they are.”

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Post time: Dec-02-2019
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