Committee chair says efforts underway to buy 15-acre site
St. Charles Parish is making headway on the Wiegand property with an appraisal done and negotiation underway for a potential new West Bank boat launch site.
“The parish has never been closer to getting a new West Bank boat launch in Des Allemands than it is at this point in time,” said Councilman Paul Hogan. “A property owner has generously offered to donate the property for the launch.”
Property owner Robert Wiegand wants to donate 4 acres in Des Allemands that Hogan has long pushed to accept. It’s also a move that more recently got Hogan criticized by fellow councilmembers as usurping the recommendations of the West Bank Boat Launch Citizens Advisory Committee, which was named to recommend launch sites to the administration.
Committee Chairman Richard Whitney said he favors Parish President Larry Cochran’s move to buy Wiegand’s entire 15-acre parcel off the WPA Road fronting on Mud Lake, which appraised at $60,000.
Efforts shifted toward finalizing the donation in addition to buying additional acreage there when it was determined the parish’s levee expansion could take up half of the donated land in the future.
Parish Public Works Director Clayton “Snookie” Faucheux, the committee’s facilitator, could not be reached for comment by press time.
Whitney said it would allow the parish to build parking on top of the stability berm and build the ramps on built-up land on the water’s edge. But, if a purchase price can’t be negotiated, he also supports the parish accepting the donated land and building a launch on the space available.
He added the Wiegand appraisal is also the only one he’s aware of that’s been completed of the four others requested in late November and early December. The committee also requested appraisals on a site on U.S. Highway 90 in the Des Allemands bridge area, Shoernstein property in the Ama area on Highway 90, Marshland (Pier 90) and the controversial Gator Cove site.
In September, the Gator Cove deal drew a firestorm of public disapproval when the council approved leasing the location for $4,500 a month for the next 30 years. It’s also why a committee was named to offer recommendations to the administration on potential launch sites.
Whitney said having several viable boat launch site possibilities would “allow St. Charles Parish to have many options for development of a world-class facility on a navigable waterway. It also would deliver to St. Charles Parish the footprint of the future levee; effectively accomplishing two tasks at the same time.”
As to the Wiegand site, he added, “If St. Charles Parish is really interested in building a boat launch, then here it is.”
Whitney listed several reasons for the move, including the parish already owning the roadway leading to the property, the fact that no residential areas will be affected and that the road overlay can dump water directly into the adjacent mitigation bank land. Additionally, there are no water bottom issues, and Wiegand is willing to donate the land within 90 days of the executed agreement.
“I can see where if St. Charles Parish works aggressively, we could be launching boats here within 18 months or less,” he said.
Once the land is secured, the parish is lined up for a Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) $1.8 million grant that will cover most or all the cost of the boat launch, Hogan said. Wiegand also has allowed the parish to conduct an environmental assessment to ensure it isn’t contaminated and the title search to expedite the process, Hogan said.
Parish efforts to acquire this property date back to the late 1990s. Hogan said an eagle’s nest in the area stopped those plans, but the state clarified that was no longer an issue.