The Ouachita Parish Police Jury (OPPJ) has offered the Ouachita Parish School Board (OPSB) $1.2 million for three of the school board’s downtown buildings.
Boxes line the halls at the Ouachita Parish Police Jury office. Police Jury president, Scotty Robinson, says it’s time to expand.
“It’s gotten a little tight here entities that are in the courthouse are also a little pressed for space”, says Robinson.
That’s why OPPJ is looking to buy three downtown buildings from the OPSB. The school board is relocating to West Monroe and looking to get rid of the downtown main office, media center and information technology building, all just blocks from the courthouse.
“Somewhere where we have more room we can put more offices more personal”, says Robinson.
“If we purchase the school board buildings it wouldn’t just be some of the police jury employees going there it would be other departments within the parish system that would go
there gladly”, says Robinson.
The problem is Robinson says the police jury can’t pay more than what the buildings were appraised for, which is just under $1.2 million. The school board is asking for $1.5 million for all three buildings.
“As a private citizen if you want a house really really bad and someone wants more than its worth you can still pay that you can pay what you want to give for something as the tax payers representatives here at the courthouse we can’t do that we have to give what something is worth. We’re both looking out for the tax payer they know what they want but we know what we can offer”, says Robinson.
If the deal goes through it could mean good news for residents.
“More parking stuff like that if anyone ever had to come to the courthouse for any reason they know what parking is like here and it’s very difficult”, says Robinson.
The money will come from OPPJ’S $80 million annual budget. Robinson says all funds are allocated and the money used to buy these buildings isn’t money that could be spent on anything else.
Residents Trudy and Frank Wheeler both agree parking downtown is a pain.
“Traffic and parking is hideous. It’s hard to find enough parking especially if they have anything going on at River walk”, says Wheeler.
But they have mixed emotions on whether or not this is the solution.
“I think it’s a good idea”, says Frank Wheeler. But his wife feels the opposite. “It’s just going to add to the congestion. I think they need to put this outside the city”, says Trudy Wheeler.
Robinson says there is plenty of time for negotiations. The police jury is not in a rush to move and the school board doesn’t plan to fully relocate until the end of next year.