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Updated: Jun 13, 2019

SAINT FRANCISVILLE, LA (JUNE 11, 2018) – Parish President, Kevin Couhig announced today that the acquisition of the land located on the Mississippi River at the site of the former ferry landing is complete. The  72-acre parcel extends 2,672 linear feet on both sides of landing along the river. The site, involved in a long-term lawsuit filed by the Lambert family, has been the subject of controversy and discord for several years. Through an expropriation process, the Parish purchased the property at its appraised value using revenue gained from the sale of an industrial property, rebates of some of the prior-paid legal fees and reserves in its Building and Grounds Fund. “It connects us to one of our greatest assets, the Mississippi River”, noted Couhig. Parish President Couhig stated that the land will become a new park site and part of West Feliciana’s Park and Recreation system with improvement plans for the public and riverboats. About what he hopes this milestone will mean for the future of West Feliciana, Couhig said,

I am really pleased to be able to put the discord behind us and begin development of what, I know, will be a centerpiece of recreational, public safety and tourism efforts of the Parish. The park will be a suitable and attractive entry point for tourists along the Mississippi River, as well as, a recreational site that will serve folks from every part of our Parish. We envision a park that will become a place that connects us and brings us closer together as a community.”


The Parish Council should be commended for their action and leadership”, said Couhig. “This is a big step forward and a project that the Council and I have been working on since I took office. I want to also commend Representative Kenny Havard and Senator Neil Riser for their outstanding help in securing $3 million in State Capital Outlay funds that will be used to develop the site.

According to Couhig, “The parish has already begun the development of the Park to allow better parking for residents and their boats and trailers.  In the next few months, we will be constructing a better parking lot and an additional boat ramp. We are cleaning up the Park for people wanting to fish both the river and Bayou Sara.  The timing couldn’t be better as the State has included nearly $3 million in the capital outlay budget to help develop the project."


The site is the only parcel of land in the parish that was practical for public for access to the Mississippi River,” said Kevin Couhig.  He added that, “This property is one of the most beautiful areas on the river and one of West Feliciana's greatest assets.” The property will also become West

River gateway. The Parish acquired the property for Mississippi River access to provide public safety for river incidents, improve the access for the riverboats, and provide the public with a park setting where people could enjoy and access the river. “This gateway is the first impression visitors on riverboats see when they arrive. We need to beautify and improve access and appearance so that we are putting our best foot forward to our guests.  Tourism is important to our economy and this project will help increase and sustain tourism over the long-term.


Currently, the American Steamboat Company and American Cruise Lines make frequent stops in West Feliciana Parish.  The Parish and Viking Cruise Line are currently negotiating to make St. Francisville a regular call once those river excursions begin. A safe berth for the riverboats and passenger terminal is necessary.


With the help of Representative Havard and Senator Riser, the Parish was able to submit requests to the 2018-2019 Louisiana Capital Outlay Program to begin engineering, planning and ultimately construction of a floating dock and safe berth for river cruise vessels, riverboats, passengers, public parking and public boat ramp for recreation and commercial purposes. “Both Representative Harvard and State Senator Riser have worked tirelessly to provide the necessary funding to begin development of the West Feliciana River Gateway. Our parish very much appreciates their efforts and leadership in working toward securing funds for capital infrastructure improvements.”, noted Couhig. West Feliciana Parish has $832,100 in Priority 2 and $2.97 million in Priority 5 in Capital Outlay. The purchase price of $540,000 Parish provides its 25 percent match on the funds. The capital outlay funds will be used for engineering and construction of the cruise vessel dock, public boat ramp and site improvements at the riverfront.


Governor John Bel Edwards signed the legislation June 7, 2018 and the process of project evaluation has begun, as the Parish works through the detailed review with the Louisiana Division of Administration and the Office of Facility Planning. “We are optimistic that the project will be placed and passed by the Louisiana State Bond Commission this fall.”, noted Couhig. In preparation of the funding the Parish has started the request for proposal process for planning, engineering and construction. The Parish is also submitting a permitting request to the U.S. Corps of Engineers to construct a new public boat ramp. However, no major improvements can be made until approved the Louisiana Division of Administration and State Bond Commission.


We are preparing and will be ready to begin when the funds are made available by the Louisiana Division of Administration and the Parish receive approval from the Bond Commission. West Feliciana is growing, we are open for business, and we are seeing a lot of interest in residential, commercial and industrial development and we are moving forward as fast as we can. The parish is going to prepared to begin construction as soon as possible.”, said Kevin Couhig


To learn more about future plans for the site, please contact Economic Development Director, Karen St. Cyr; call 225.635.3864 or email karen@wfparish.org.

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BY JACQUELINE DEROBERTIS | JDEROBERTIS@THEADVOCATE.COM


MAY 29, 2019

Site plans and design for the West Feliciana Parish Mississippi Riverfront Gateway Development are underway after a recent community meeting where parish residents provided input for the highly anticipated project.


The development, which is supported through state capital outlay funds at $2,972,000, aims to establish a Mississippi River Gateway that will provide public access to the Mississippi River. Another objective is to expand the ease of access to riverboats currently restricted to docking at one landing, and loading and unloading on the New Roads side of the river when flooding worsens.


“The area we’re talking about would probably go under water more frequently now than we’ve seen in the last 20 years,” Havard said. “Whatever we build is going to have to withstand high water and be able to be washed off immediately after the river goes down.”

A coalition of state, parish and local officials are leading the project team.

According to Parish President Kenny Havard, West Feliciana Parish acquired 72 acres for the development in May 2018. The scope of work documents show that the site is accessible from both Ferdinand Street and the Old Ferry Landing.


Viking River Cruises recently signed an agreement with the parish, Havard said, for their company to build a floating dock for their river tours. Capital outlay funding will allow the parish to build another loading dock, adjacent to the proposed Viking terminal, to service American Duchess and American Queen steamboat companies.


The Old Ferry Landing will remain in use for residents to use their own boats, he said. Completion of the development is projected for fiscal year 2021-2022.


Though officials anticipate the development will bring the parish more tourism opportunities, Havard said the recent flooding in the parish will “definitely present its challenges.”


“The area we’re talking about would probably go under water more frequently now than we’ve seen in the last 20 years,” Havard said. “Whatever we build is going to have to withstand high water and be able to be washed off immediately after the river goes down.”

In addition to constructing a dock for riverboat access, officials plan to provide public recreation and community spaces that will enhance tourism in the area. Residents offered suggestions for the spaces during an April 30 meeting, including a kid’s splash pad, zip-lining platform, a boardwalk and restaurants.


Justin Lemoine, a landscape architect with ELS Landscape Architecture studio and part of the project design team, said there are “endless possibilities” for what his team can do with the site, and that residents seem excited about the prospect of the development.

“In between Natchez and Baton Rouge, there really aren’t a lot of opportunities to have people interact with the Mississippi River, which is a huge part of our economy,” Lemoine said. “We’re excited about providing one of those and making something that West Feliciana and St. Francisville can be proud of.”


He added that one of the only concerns he has heard from the community is how the influx of tourism will affect traffic patterns.


Laurie Walsh, St. Francisville director of tourism and Main Street program, said the development will have a “huge economic impact” for the parish, especially in respect to sales tax collection as visitors frequent the restaurants and shops in town.

While revenue projections are not yet substantiated, Jim Cavanaugh, parish director of economic development, said he will conduct an economic impact analysis for the parish when the project progresses further.

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St. Francisville, LA 70775

Phone: 225-635-3864

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