ST. FRANCISVILLE — One thing became evident during Monday’s West Feliciana Parish Council meeting: Lea Williams is not going to go away without a fight.
In the penultimate meeting of the present council, Williams sought to have the parish expropriate a parcel of land at the Mississippi riverfront that has been her target since she first was elected.
She introduced an ordinance that would amend the parish’s Building and Grounds budget in order to appropriate funds either $62,000 or $65,000 to cover expenses related to expropriation.
Fireworks between Williams and a number of people began almost immediately after her presentation about what property she wants the parish to expropriate.
“I’m asking we be put right with what we originally had,” Williams said.
Paul A. Lambert Jr., representing the heirs of Paul Lambert Sr., who own some of the property located on a map presented by Williams, asked how many acres she wished to expropriate because she hadn’t presented a survey or legal description of the land.
She said 41.9 acres, but Lambert countered that the entire scope of land she wants the parish to expropriate is close to 103 acres.
“I don’t think this description is legal. I don’t know how you can expropriate anything without a legal description,” Lambert said.
Alan Kirkpatrick, a member of the Port Commission, told Williams she is putting the cart before the horse because it isn’t clear how much money she is seeking and there isn’t a legal description for what she is seeking with the ordinance.
She also sparred with Parish President Kevin Couhig, who accused her of being unprepared, and with Sydney Picou Walker, an incoming council member. Picou Walker said she was “utterly shocked” by the whole proceeding because Williams had not clearly identified what steps need to be taken to properly expropriate any property.
“This whole mess with the riverfront has gone on too long,” Picou Walker said. “I don’t believe it’s legal, and I don’t believe it’s appropriate.”
The council voted 3-3 on Williams’ request to add an amendment to the ordinance to include the $65,000 to begin expropriation. Melvin Percy, Melvin Young and John Kean voted against the request, while Otis Wilson, Heather Howle and Williams voted for it. Ricky Lambert abstained.
At that point, Howle urged Williams to recess the public hearing and take up the issue at the final meeting on Dec. 28, which she did.
“You can do what you want, but I’m going to veto this, and you’ll need a supermajority to override it,” Couhig said. “Unless you can get five votes, you’re wasting your time.”