Master plan for tourism offered

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 1, 2005



LAPLACE — It doesn’t take long to live in the River Region and appreciate the incredible rich history here, as well as historical buildings such as the plantations.

Preserving that history, and increasing tourism to the area, is the intent of a year-long Tulane University study presented this past week at the River Parishes Tourism Commission.

“A Master Plan Proposal for the River Road” was presented to a full house of interested plantation owners, as well as public officials representing tourist interests. The hope is that the plan, which was undertaken by the Tulane University School of Architecture, will be the catalyst to bring many different groups together, all with the intent of preserving and restoring the history found in buildings along River Road.

“There used to be 400 plantation houses on River Road, and now there are less than 100,” Eugene Cizek, director of Preservation Studies, explained. “We want people to learn about the buildings, detail by detail, and we want the interest to begin with the kids since that is the future to preserve it.”

There has apparently been different organizations over the years which have made an effort to lead the preservation and restoration effort, but most of those in attendance this week agreed that a singular effort is needed for a serious effect.

“This all parallels the idea of Lieutenant Governor Mitch Landrieu, who wants to regionalize the tourist efforts in different areas around the state,” River Parishes Tourism Director Jesse Wolz said. “Everyone wins with that kind of effort, both tourism and preservation of what we have.”

Wolz and those in attendance agreed that the plan is very long term, but also agreed that it has to start somewhere.

“We hope this study will serve as a catalyst to bring the River Road groups together,” Saran Bonnette of Tulane said. “Ideally we hope to have the entire region designated a National Heritage Area. We hope this master plan can help that to happen.”

The study was done by students at the school as a year-long project, studying areas only on the West Bank, but detailing regions from Hahnville to St. James Parish.

“We did a large study from people in the areas and found that the people all along the river really, truly love these buildingsÅ not even just the large plantationsÅ and are very concerned to see so many of them falling apart,” Tulane’s Alice-Anne Krishnan remarked. “The area is already a tremendous tourist region, but we think many more obscure areas such as Caire Landing and others, which aren’t being utilized enough, can be renovated to become additional attractions.”