Boat and business owners’ decadelong wait for a refurbished New Orleans Municipal Yacht Harbor could end by 2018 if the results of a feasibility study satisfy federal officials.
City officials outlined plans for a $25 million harbor revamp in a 2016 budget presentation Tuesday to the City Council.
The redo would come after 10 years of deadlock between the city and the Federal Emergency Management Agency over funding for the harbor’s rebuilding.
At issue had been how much FEMA owed the city for damage from hurricanes Katrina and Isaac. In previous years, FEMA was unwilling to put forth more than a few million dollars. But the federal agency agreed in August to cap the project at $24 million and let the city improve, not just refurbish, the docking system, pending a study on the costs and demand.
City officials said Tuesday that FEMA eventually agreed to a price of about $20 million.
The feasibility study, which will determine the appropriate types and prices for new boat slips, is expected to be complete by the end of this year. After FEMA gets the results, it could take a few more months to approve the new floating docks the city wants at the site.
Assuming that FEMA agrees, construction on those docks should begin in early 2017 and take 14 to 16 months to complete, city spokeswoman Sarah McLaughlin said.
Floating docks will allow the harbor’s electrical systems to move as the water moves, which would help mitigate damage should another disaster strike, Municipal Yacht Harbor Management Corp. Executive Director Taylor Casey said. The current docks are stationary.
“In the long run, we feel and our board feels that we will save a substantial amount of money,” he said.
The new slips would replace those destroyed by Katrina, Casey said. While the harbor had almost 600 slips before the storm, it’s down to 140 usable slips.
All told, the city is budgeting $25.3 million for the docks, “comfort stations” and refurbishing the parking area on the marina’s eastern side.
Separately, a $905,000 renovation of the West End fishing pier and bathrooms will be completed by mid-2017, officials said.
A $128,000 rebuilding of the Breakwater Drive boat launch, which is largely being funded through a grant from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, should be finished by mid-2016.
Finally, a $1.6 million new boathouse is scheduled to be completed in May 2016.
The Municipal Yacht Harbor Management Corp., a public-benefit corporation responsible for managing city property at West End, generates its own operating revenue. It expects to spend $2.4 million in 2016.
Follow Jessica Williams on Twitter, @jwilliamsNOLA.