City council votes to postpone discussion of selling federal building

By Jim Wilkerson

The Ruston City Council convened for its scheduled monthly meeting on Monday, Sept. 13 in city hall. All motions, except one, were either unanimously approved or agreed to be postponed before the council officially met.

The one motion that was voted down during the meeting was the proposition to sell the old federal building which the City of Ruston purchased for $236,000 seven years ago. The reason for potentially selling the property, Mayor Ronny Walker said, is purely business. The building has mold and asbestos, and the city government recently received estimates indicating $3M to $5M worth of repairs.

“The buck stops here,” Walker said, acknowledging the motion’s unpopularity among some members in the Ruston community. Indeed, two concerned citizens did show up to vocalize their opposition to the motion and did so successfully. One was Peter Jones, and the other was Susan Roach – both professors emerita at Louisiana Tech.

Each essentially made the same argument: Federal grants could potentially be arriving next year that will cover much, if not all, of the costs to repair the building. Initially, the old federal building was purchased to develop a community arts center in Ruston, and both Jones and Roach wanted to keep that project going.

“Don’t close this deal until grants get in next year,” Jones pleaded.

The council, it seems, welcomed both Jones’s and Roach’s pleas for postponement. When Walker asked for a motion to move forward with the vote, none of the aldermen responded. After some discussion, it was then unanimously agreed upon by the council to postpone the vote for another few months, at least.

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