The Leesville City Council found itself in a predicament Monday afternoon and has tabled a discussion in order allow the parties involved to find a solution to the problem, which centers around the old Trailways Bus Station.

The building is considered historically significant because of the way it once tied Leesville to Camp Polk, yet it's also in need of repair.


The Leesville City Council found itself in a predicament Monday afternoon and has tabled a discussion in order allow the parties involved to find a solution to the problem, which centers around the old Trailways Bus Station.
The building is considered historically significant because of the way it once tied Leesville to Camp Polk, yet it's also in need of repair. The Vernon Parish Fire District purchased the building some time ago with the intent of turning it into a training station for volunteer fire departments throughout the parish. However, problems with the building's flat roof leaking have put that endeavor on hold, said C.J. Deters, a representative of the fire district. Deters addressed the council concerning a variance that would allow a pitched metal roof to be placed on the building, saying that to keep a flat roof would guarantee a constant need for repair.
"No other work can be done [on the building] until the roof is fixed," said Deters. "Our only other option is to let [the building] rust and fall down ... Parish taxpayers have spent $16,000 so far, and it's all laying on the ground." Deters was referring to trusses that were on the verge of being installed on top of the building in order to support the metal roof when representatives of the historic district became aware of the project and halted the work. Now the trusses are stacked in the parking lot of the building.
A number of other people were also at the council meeting to protest the variance, including a downtown resident, other property owners and representatives from the Leesville Historic District Commission.
"Our main concern is that [a pitched metal roof would] completely change the architectural design," said Lynn Beard, who is with the historic commission. Beard referred to a state bill that governs such situations.
"It's not a matter of what we want or what we like ... it's a matter of preserving history," she said.
Mike Elliott, District 4, encouraged Beard to put things in motion that would prevent similar situations in the future, namely property owners moving forward on building projects without knowledge of standing regulations.
Beard assured Elliott that the commission was working on the issue.
Others also opposed the variance, saying that the fire district did not get a permit from the city nor an engineer's opinion as to whether the building could support the trusses and a metal roof.
Mike Reese, a property owner in the district, expressed concern that the City's code enforcement officer, Scott Grady, did not hold the fire district to the same standards as city residents when it came to issuing permits.
Grady said that it had been his understanding that the police jury was going to do the work on the building and that there was no need to issue a permit to another government agency.
"It never entered my mind it was in the historic district," Grady said. "This was long before [the fire district] considered putting the bid out."
Reese added that he and other property owners in the district "have been working very hard on downtown efforts" and that he was "very concerned about the precedent we might set" in allowing the fire district to install a pitched metal roof.
Reese also expressed empathy with Deters and the fire district over the trusses and pledged to help them recoup the money.
Pat Williams, of Pat Williams Construction, suggested that perhaps the city could build a park pavilion with the trusses.
At that point, Pat Martinez, District 1, suggested that the issue be tabled for two weeks to allow the parties involved time to discover a solution.
Deters invited everyone to the June meeting of the fire district board to further discuss the matter.
In other business, the city approved a resolution to accept bids for the sale of about 1.2 acres behind the Leesville Developmental Center. The property includes an old, unused water tower. The land would be sold as is, said City Attorney Tony Tillman who indicated that the resolution is the first step in selling surplus property.