By unanimous vote, the St. Charles Parish Council rejected a plan to upgrade the Des Allemands boat launch.
It was the parish’s latest attempt to upgrade or provide a new boat launch, but the council rejected the administration’s plan to upgrade the site at its Jan. 7 meeting. Council members, as well as residents, maintained it lacked critical information, including project cost and required permits.
The vote followed last month’s plan outlined by Public Works Director Clayton “Snookie” Faucheux calling for buying Des Allemands resident Sherwood A. Berard’s property on 409 Down the Bayou Road for $155,000. Faucheux said the move was aimed at improving safety by realigning the road away from the water’s edge. The project also called for adding a small pavilion and restroom at the location.
Berard told the council that he was approached by a councilman, who he said he would not name, about selling his property and he replied, “Yes, if you make it worth my while.” Soon after, he maintained the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) approached him about it, too, which resulted in the parish doing an appraisal and a verbal agreement to sell. For three months, he said he searched for a new residence while dealing with Public Works to finalize the purchase.
He further called for at least two council members, whom he said he would not name, to recuse themselves from voting on the project “for showing favoritism to old school buddies.”
Berard said he agreed with Faucheux citing safety concerns about the location, adding, in his 35 years living there, that he’d seen “plenty of close calls.”
But Clyde McCully of Paradis, who owns land adjoining the location on both sides, again asked the council reject the project, saying it lacked critical details and required DOTD permits.
Des Allemands resident Barbara Snyder also agreed with McCully.
Snyder asked the council get a better plan.
Nelda Woodruff, whose husband Billy Woodruff sits on the council and represents the area, strongly opposed the land purchase and questioned the investment in favor of investing in a proposed boat launch on WPA Road.
“We love our bayou,” his wife added, who also called for cleaning the location. “Please don’t purchase this property. Please leave the bayou for us to enjoy it.”
Councilman Woodruff announced he didn’t want to spend the night in the Ramada Inn and sided with his wife in the vote, as well as stated “We should have never approached Mr. Berard when we did. There’s a lot of things we could have done better.”
Councilman Paul Hogan earlier questioned investing in the project, which could exceed $1 million, when efforts are focusing on the WPA boat launch. Hogan also noted residents have maintained they want to keep the location used locally and these additions would draw more people.