St. Charles Parish has applied for funding from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries for the first phase of a new Des Allemands boat launch, estimated to cost $1.5 million.
The first phase of the launch, which would be located near Down the Bayou Road, includes four ramps, 23 parking spaces for vehicles with trailers and eight parking spots for vehicles. It also includes the paving of the road leading to the launch, which would have to travel over a levee.
Wildlife and Fisheries typically provides funding between $500,000 to $700,000. Parish Grants Officer Holly Fonseca said that if the parish receives $600,000 in grant funding, they will be required to pay 25 percent, or $370,579. Parish President V.J. St. Pierre said that he has already budgeted $500,000 towards the project and he is confident that private funds will make up the remaining $400,000 required to complete the first phase.
"Itís time we have a first class boat launch in the parish," he said. "We are going to have the money to do it."
The parish only owns one boat launch, which is currently located in Des Allemands. Councilman Paul Hogan said that launch has been plagued with problems for years.
"Itís the only one we have and itís a hassle to use and very dangerous," he said. "To back a boat in, you have to back across a street and weíve had a lot of public urination and trash complaints, along with other problems."
Some council members were concerned that if Wildlife and Fisheries were to award grant funding, the parish would be required to pay $370,579 even if they canít come up with the rest of the money to complete the project. However, Fonseca said that the parish does have the option of turning down grant funding if that money is needed elsewhere.
The parish submitted the grant application on Oct. 1 and Fonseca said they will likely get a response from Wildlife and Fisheries in February. If the parish accepts the grant funding, they will have to start construction later next year.
While the first phase of the project would make the launch usable by the public, the parish is required to complete a second phase as a condition of the land donation. The second phase is estimated to cost $400,000 and the parish does have the option of reapplying to Wildlife and Fisheries again to receive up to 75 percent of that cost.
However, Fonseca said that funding is not guaranteed.
"Wildlife and Fisheriesí only interest is what it takes to get the boat in the water, so they wouldnít necessarily participate in phase two," she said.
Hogan said that a new launch would be a boon to the parish economically.
"This isnít just for people in Des Allemands or in St. Charles Parish, it will be used by people from all over south Louisiana. People will come from all around to fish here," he said. "When people fish they buy gas, food, ice – it has an economic benefit."