West Feliciana Parish President Kevin Couhig announced Monday that the acquisition of the land 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 the landing along the river. The site, involved in a long-term lawsuit filed by the Lambert family, has been the subject of controversy for several years.
Through an expropriation process, the parish purchased the property at its appraised value using revenue 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,” Couhig said. He said 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.
“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," Couhig said in a news release. "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.”
He commended the Parish Council, Rep. Kenny Havard and Sen. Neil Riser supporting the project.
In the next few months, construction should begin on a new parking lot and an additional boat ramp.
"We are cleaning up the park for people wanting to fish both the river and Bayou Sara," he said. "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 access to the Mississippi River,” he said. “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 Feliciana’s 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.
The American Steamboat Co. and American Cruise Lines make frequent stops in West Feliciana Parish. The parish and Viking Cruise Line are negotiating to make St. Francisville a regular call once those river excursions begin.
With the help of Havard and Riser, the parish submitted requests to the 2018-2019 Louisiana Capital Outlay Program to begin engineering and planning for 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,” Couhig said.
To learn more about future plans for the site, call Economic Development Director Karen St. Cyr at (225) 635-3864.