St. Charles Herald-Guide

Des Allemands residents want ‘eyesore’ removed from bayou

Kyle Barnett - October 18, 2013

Despite popular support from those in the immediate area, the attempt to get the parish government involved in the raising of a sunken shrimp boat near the Des Allemands Bridge in Lac Des Allemands has come to a standstill.

St. Charles Parish Councilman Paul Hogan has been leading the charge to have the vessel “Pretty Boy” raised, which he said sank four years ago.

“Des Allemands is a registered scenic waterway. Everybody that passes by this has to see this piece of trash,” he said.

Hogan said he has tried to work with Parish President V.J. St. Pierre’s office as well as the rest of the council to remove the boat from the waterway, but has gotten nowhere.

“There is a state law that says the parish can go to the boat owner and tell them they have to pick the boat up. If they don’t do it in a certain amount of time the parish can do it and send them the bill,” he said. “I wrote an institutional ordinance directing the parish president to go pick up the boat and bill the property owner. The council shot that down.”

Despite a petition passed around the neighborhood that received 80 signatures, the boat, which is located near Hogan’s own property, does not look to be moved anytime soon.

Barry Schaubhut, 69, has lived in the same house his entire life that is just down the street from the boat. He said that there are parts of the vessel that inhibit navigation.

“It’s leaning more and more on its side and they’ve got them big trawling booms on it for a trawl and that leans out in the passageway of the bayou,” he said. “One of the booms on the right hand side sticks out into the bayou.”

Schaubhut said he would like to see the boat removed.

“They don’t bother with picking it up or hauling it off and being destroyed. They just leave it there to be a hazard,” he said.

Des Allemands resident Jimmy Schneider has lived in the area for 30 years. He said he did not know why the council did not support Hogan’s resolution.   

“I think it is something that needs to be taken care of. You have a boat that is sunken in a navigable waterway. Currently it is stable but that doesn’t mean it will always be. A hurricane or a big storm could come through and push it out into the middle of the waterway,” he said.

The boat’s owner, Stanford Naquin, said he has tethered the vessel to pilings with chains and that it is unlikely to move anytime soon. In the past, Naquin tried to raise the boat himself, unsuccessfully.

“I talked to the Corps of Engineers and the Coast Guard and they both said since I was not obstructing marine traffic I did not have to move it,” he said.

Several council members and St. Pierre echoed the fact that the Coast Guard has not deemed the sunken boat a hazard because it does not hinder navigation.

Naquin said he thinks Hogan is motivated by the boat being located so close to his property.

“They have got many other boats sitting in the bayou with blackberry bushes growing out of them, you don’t see them doing anything about them,” he said. “He’s trying to get me to pick my boat up because it is close to his property and bringing property values down.”

After contacting a professional boat raising service, Naquin said he was quoted $15,000 to have a company raise the boat and another $15,000 to dispose of it.

He said if the parish wanted the boat gone, the best thing they could do is pay for it to be removed.

“Find somebody to help me pick it up, because I am broke,” Naquin said.

In contrast to Naquin’s statements, Hogan said the boat could be raised by a salvage company who would keep the vessel and only charge the parish $10,400.

Hogan said should the parish take on the burden of raising the boat and disposing of it, they do have options to get reimbursed by Naquin for the removal. The parish could put a lien on Naquin’s house, garner his wages or go through a collection agency, Hogan said.

However, without movement of behalf of the parish president’s office or Parish Council, nothing is likely to be done.

“The parish is going to ignore (the residents who signed the petition). Why? They are begging the parish to do something,” Hogan said.

In parish discussion on the resolution Hogan put forward, Councilman Terrell Wilson said there were at least three other boats sunken along the same waterway.

“Would they not be included in this request?” he said.

Wilson added that he did not believe the parish would be able to get their money back from the owner after removing the vessel.

“The parish would never recoup any money that would be spent on getting this thing lifted out of the water, salvaging it. Just the cost associated with it is astronomical due to the limited number of companies that do this type of work,” he said.

Councilman Billy Woodruff agreed with Wilson, adding that although the vessel is an “eyesore” it did not make sense to move it due to the financial burden and the fact that other vessels are sunken in the area.

Hogan said he has not had any complaints about other sunken boats.

“I have complaints from people that pass in front of my house every day and ask me, ‘When that boat’s gonna get outta here?’” he said.

March Dufrene, 89, said in addition to being an eyesore for the community, she thinks the sunken boat represents a danger to area children.

“I think it is a danger to people too. People and kids that don’t realize a sunken boat can be dangerous might go play on it and get hurt,” she said.

But Parish President V.J. St. Pierre said the vessel poses no immediate danger to the public.

“That is the main reason the administration is not in favor of undertaking the raising of the Pretty Boy. I am also concerned about any potential environmental hazards that may result from raising the vessel, such as oil and/or gas tank leaks, and associated cleanup costs. This would essentially constitute an expenditure of public funds for what may be a private dispute, which can be taken care of civilly.”

Area resident Roy Lunk, 74, said he thinks the issue is pretty simple.

“The boat is there and sunk. It is the individual that allowed it to go down and sink that should bear the burden of doing whatever is necessary for getting it out of there,” he said. “Whether he likes it or not, that is just the way it is.”

Eighty residents signed a petition asking the parish to remove this boat, which has been sunk in Lac Des Allemands for four years.
Eighty residents signed a petition asking the parish to remove this boat, which has been sunk in Lac Des Allemands for four years.