New fence angers property owner

A new fence is being constructed along Kaplan’s boulevard, and one property owner is not in favor of it.
The city is putting up a wooden fence along the frontal properties of three businesses which once housed a department store, a thrift shop and a skating rink before a fire destroyed all three buildings in October of last year. All three buildings sat side by side on Cushing Boulevard.
Patches Bell, owner of the skating rink, said the first she heard of the fence was when someone called her and asked what were people digging for on her property.
“We drove over to see what was going on and it was some post holes that were dug,” she said.
Not knowing what to make of this, she put in a call to Kaplan Mayor Kirk Champagne.
Champagne told her he had received complaints about the ‘emptiness of the lots on Main Street’, she said.
“I am upset about this,” said Bell. “I didn’t agree to this. We won’t be able to access our property from the boulevard, for business or pleasure.”
Family and friends would gather there for downtown functions such as Mardi Gras or other parades.
Bell also stated that a construction company will soon be removing the old beams, the only thing remaining of the original building (all of which need to be taken down due to the fire). She says machinery cannot access the lot from the front due to the fence and the alley is not accessible for the heavy equipment needed to do the job.
“The State Transportation Department thinks that he should at least put us a gate on our property for access from the front,” said Bell.
“I did not agree to this and feel that the fence blocking off the boulevard will be an invitation to anyone who wants to hide from view to do wrong, along with all the trash these people will leave behind.”
After doing more research and speaking with other people, Bell said she feels the real reason for the fence is to hide all the junk and trash from the property behind her.
“Why not deal with the real problem and make them clean up then no fence would be needed?”
Bell also questions other eyesores such as the old LaChaudiere lot which also stands empty after it burned, along with the dilapidated Jr. Food Mart building on Highway 14.
“I feel I am being targeted for no reason. I did not break any laws or do anything wrong,” said Patches.
Bell closed with, “My husband and I also would like to state that we so apologize, but as long as the fence is up, all rebuilding process and research will be stopped. If he feels the need disrespect us and abuse his position, then we don’t feel we can operate in his town.”
Kaplan Mayor Kirk Champagne says he is not attempting to deny access to any property.
“I am just trying to fill a missing tooth on the pretty smile of our main street.
“The fence can also adapt to any economic growth in that area.”
Champagne says the cost of the fence is approximately $3,200 and is being paid through sales tax money.
“Once completed,” says the mayor, “a local artist has graciously offered his time and talents to paint a mural on the fence.”

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