Following a lengthy discussion over whether proposed agreements assured St. Charles Parish residents future use of a proposed Westbank Boat Launch, the St. Charles Parish Council agreed to let the incoming council and administration decide the move.
Chief Administrative Officer Buddy Boe told the council at Monday’s meeting that the proposed agreement with Marsh Investments in Metairie, represented by company President Joseph C. Marcello, would allow the parish to lease a portion of Pier 90 for $1 a year for 30 years.
Had the lease agreement been approved, it would have started Jan. 1, 2016. Boe said lease agreements to secure recreational facilities are typical in the parish.
Boe said the agreement includes a five-year revocatory clause that requires the parish government act on the project within that time or the leased area would return to the owner.
But council members Julia Fisher-Perrier and Paul Hogan both expressed concern about the terms of the lease, as well as what they considered were a lack of specifics in a proposed shared use agreement for the property.
“This administration thought a shared use agreement would broadly set the terms,” Boe said. But he added they could iron out the terms with the property owner next year.“We felt the project was good so we saw this as a public project that needed to move forward,” he said. “But most of those council members will be there next term.”
Boe added, “We thank the council for all they’ve done. We’ve moved a lot of major projects forward. Everyone is positioned to have a successful next term between projects, financing and cooperation as this transition comes.”
Approval of the lease agreement would have cleared the way to start the first phase of a two-phase Pier 90 project. The first phase, estimated to cost $450,000, calls for a boat launch and cosmetic improvements. The council also tabled the design contract, as well as permitting and taking bids for Phase I. Boe added Phase I funding has been approved.
“There would be three boat launches and bulk heading the canal for a pier-like area to fish,” he said. It also would include a package sewer plant, landscaping and beautifying the canal between the boat launch and proposed pavilion.The second phase, estimated to cost $500,000, calls for more permanent parking, restrooms and a pavilion.
According to Boe, the agreements resulted from nearly 1-1/2 years of negotiating with the property owner.
“It’s obviously our hope that project moves forward,” he said, adding, the current administration will continue to work with the incoming one to get this project done.
The Westbank Boat Launch also fits with the parish’s Master Plan that identified the need for more recreational facilities on both sides of the Mississippi River, he said. It’s also a logical move considering 50 percent of the parish is wet, her said, and parish residents want more access points to the parish’s waterways.
Additionally, the Pier 90 location in Luling is behind a storm protection levee, which means the propose boat launch would be protected, Boe said. This is a rarity in Louisiana, he added, which is another factor that supports this location.