West Feliciana riverfront project planning underway

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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West Feliciana Parish Goverment

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P. O. Box 1921

5934 Commerce St

St. Francisville, LA 70775

Phone: 225-635-3864

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