Gonzales Council backs steamboat museum bid

Charlotte Guedry

Councilman John Cagnolatti made an impassioned plea at Monday’s Gonzales City Council meeting, asking for support from the city regarding the parish’s first cultural district.

The new cultural district will be built across from Houma’s House Plantation, and will consist of a steamboat museum, walkway to the Mississippi River, amphitheater, art gallery, ballroom, and a refurbished steamboat, the Delta Queen.

Owner of Houma’s House, Kevin Kelly, has pledged to contribute some of the cost through his personal finances if a bid is successful with the La. Department of Transportation and Development’s Scenic Byways program.

Cagnolatti asked for support from the council in the form of a letter to the DOTD in support of the cultural district.

“There is no cultural district in our parish,” he said. “New Orleans has 33. We need to support this proposal in our parish.” All members of the council were in agreement, and Mayor Arceneaux passed the appeal, mentioning that the district is “a great idea for the community.”

Also during the meeting was a statement made by Councilman Kenneth Matassa in reference to dilapidated buildings in the city. Matasa was concerned regarding a “hole in the code of ordinance” for commercial properties.

Currently, residential properties are responsible for the upkeep of empty buildings. Lawns must be kept clean, and broken windows must be repaired. Commercial properties; however, do not have the same expectations.

Matassa was concerned that “there needs to be a time limit on how long these commercial buildings can stay in a state of repair. We don’t want boarded up buildings in Gonzales.”

It was agreed that Council Attorney Ryland Percy would look at other community codes to find out what would be appropriate for commercial properties in Gonzales.