If all goes according to plan, construction of a new boat launch in Des Allemands could start as early as 2024. The scope of the project as it stands now includes a boat launch, fish cleaning station, floating dock with kayak ramp, pavilion and other related amenities.
Dozens of eager residents gathered Tuesday night at the Edward A. Dufresne Community Center as parish officials hosted a town hall meeting related to the Des Allemands Boat Launch and displayed design drafts of the project.
“There aren’t any high-quality boat launches … just not a lot of options on the West Bank, and we intend to build that for our residents,” St. Charles Parish President Matthew Jewell said at the start of the meeting.
Thomas Buckel of Duplantis Design Group, along with several of his colleagues who are also working on the design and logistics of the build, spoke to the audience and fielded technical questions related to the boat launch.
“The goal is to be pushing dirt by the third of fourth quarter of this year,” Buckel said, explaining that the area used for the boat launch and related parking areas will need to be built up before construction can begin.
In spring of 2021 the St. Charles Parish Council unanimously voted to approve a donation of 109.8 acres of land by Chevron’s Gulf of Mexico Business Unit to the parish for the purpose of a boat launch and recreational area along Bayou Des Allemands. Talks between the parish and Chevron over the gift have been ongoing since the middle of 2018.
The sprawling 110-acre area is located in Des Allemands, south of US Highway 90, between Bayou Des Allemands and WPA Road. The boat launch and recreational space will be created using a $1.88 million grant from the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority. The partnership was heralded as the optimal model for CPRA’s recreational “Quality of Life” projects.
Access to the boat launch will be provided by a road leading from WPA Road (LA Highway 632) near Allemands Elementary and Des Allemands Playground, the land for which was also donated by Chevron in 2006.
At the time of the donation, Jewell called the donation “generous” and said the land offers incredible potential. He echoed those same sentiments Tuesday as he said options are wide open for what the land could eventually be used for. Examples included developing camping sites, ball fields, RV camps and nature trails.
Several audience members expressed concern over the talk of ball fields, and vocalized how they thought the area should be used exclusively as an area to enjoy fishing and related activities.
Future surveys and parish meetings will guide those developments, Jewell said.
What is certain for now is Phase 1 – building the launch site itself and a road to accompany it – and Phase 2 – finishing the parking lot and scope of the project. Jewell said Phase 1 should ring in at around $4 million.
Jewell noted $1.8 million in RESTORE Act funding from the BP oil spill settlement will be utilized toward the project. He also noted other sources of funding should be available via grants through the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and the Department of Homeland Security for birdwatching areas, elevated trails, RV sites and campsites. The general fund, he said, would also be in play as a source toward the project, which he said would offer a substantial improvement to the parish.
The parish will be responsible for maintaining the property, as it will maintain ownership of the property.
Gail Babineaux of Luling attended the meeting and was all smiles walking out of it.
“It was great,” he said. “The design had everything I would want as an avid fisherman and it also had amenities that my family would use.”