Council, public divided over donation for Des Allemands launch

Councilman Hogan tables deal – for now

After St. Charles Parish Council members accused Councilman Paul Hogan of usurping the authority of their appointed boat launch committee by pushing a proposed measure to accept a land donation, Hogan tabled the move.

Hogan said, based on concerns raised by the parish, that he had acted prematurely by introducing an ordinance that would accept a 4.4-acre land donation from Robert Wiegand for a new Des Allemands boat launch site. But he said he only wanted time to correct potential issues with the donation documents.

“Maybe I was a little premature to act on this based on an email from Carla Chiasson,” he told the council. Chiasson is the parish’s grants officer.

Chiasson had advised Hogan by email that his donation documents were inconsistent, lacked Wiegand’s signature and the proposed project required environmental clearance by CPRA.

Hogan narrowly got approval to table the move at Monday’s council meeting.

But the public still commented on the plan to accept the Wiegand donation.

Hahnville resident Milton Allemand, who said he’d been attending the meetings of the St. Charles Parish West Bank Boat Launch Citizens Advisory Committee, asked the council to take the donation.

“We need this site in addition to Pier 90,” Allemand said of potential boat launch sites. He said the parish will buy a right of way for a future levee anyway so the administration should act on the donation. “I don’t see why we don’t move forward and act on this.”

Allemand asked the council to stop kicking the can down the road and take the only available land in Des Allemands for the launch.

At the meeting, Luling resident Cory Savoie said he was shocked that one councilman, Hogan, could overtake the process in favor of the Wiegand land. Savoie questioned the added cost of this move that could come with reclaiming land from Mud Lake to make the project work.

Savoie said the deal “would not pass the smell test.”

Council Chairman Dick Gibbs, as well as Councilwoman Julia Fisher-Perrier, had earlier questioned the move originating with Hogan instead of the boat launch committee that was named to make recommendations to the council. They also questioned the procedure Hogan used that allowed him to get the measure on the agenda for a Jan. 22 vote.

“Paul has unfortunately circumvented the process of the committee – and it really has upset all eight of us,” Gibbs said. “We are asked to stay out of it … let the committee do what it is charged to do but he has very much involved himself. Paul is doing one thing and not consulting with any of us.”

He further maintained Hogan had “involved himself too much and even put an ordinance on the agenda at the last very minute.”

Hogan disagreed.

He emphasized he was only working on securing a donation for the property after the boat launch committee’s December vote to not send the Wiegand donation to the council for consideration. He said the committee at that time was instead considering the possibility of expanding the existing boat launch site, which Hogan maintained can’t be done.

Upon securing an agreement for Wiegand’s donation, Hogan said he forwarded it to the parish administration requesting it be introduced as an ordinance to accept the agreement.

In 2009, Hogan pushed to accept the Wiegand 3-acre land donation proposed through the Riverbend Corp. for a boat launch near Down the Bayou Road and to fund the project. Hogan said then that the location would need a road estimated to cost $800,000, as well as the additional cost of the parish shifting the Mud Lake levee or filling in part of Mud Lake to build the launch.

But Hogan said he considered the cost worth it in the long run and that he would seek different sources of funding, including state funds, grants and possibly going to industry.

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