Reserve Boat Launch improvements beginning

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 3, 2010



RESERVE – State and local leaders joined a handful of St. John the Baptist Parish residents Monday to celebrate the start of long awaited improvements to the Reserve Boat Launch.

The parish is ready to move on a $540,000 contract to add new piers, paved parking, better lighting and picnic pavilions to the launch area. The project will also add a pair of retention ponds that will ease drainage concerns in the area.

During a groundbreaking ceremony Monday morning, St. John Parish President Natalie Robottom said the work should be completed in six months. She said she is sympathetic to concerns from local hunters and fishermen, who fear they will lose access to the launch for a period of time.

“The end result here will be a launch the parish can be proud of,” Robottom said. “But we have to remember that with progress there will certainly be delays. I’m confident we can keep the delays at a minimum.”

The project is funded by dollars left over from a 2002 bond issue, along with a $178,000 federal grant from the Wallop-Breaux Foundation for sporting and fishing improvements. State Rep. Nickie Monica, R-LaPlace, who was parish president when the bond issue was approved, said the parish wanted to move forward on dreging and other improvements at that time but met resistence from landowners over the parish’s right to clear the canal. He said the improvements got side-tracked by hurricane-related issues, and the parish allowed a contract to do the work expire.

“Today is only the beginning,” Monica said. “We still have more work to do in order to make this canal safer to navigate.”

District 2 Councilman Danny Millet, who has been a big supporter of the launch project, said the six-mile canal was dug out in the late 1940s and not touched much after that.

“This is a worthwhile project that will ultimately serve two purposes,” said Millet. “It is an active water route where people can get access to dozens of locations on the lakes, and it is also an important drainage canal in the parish that is in need of dredging. The launch is in a central location in the parish and is frequently used by residents from all parts of the East Bank.”

L&L General Contractors was awarded the contract on the project in May. Robottom said the expected completion date is early January 2011.