New park gearing up for grand opening

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 10, 2010



NORCO – St. Charles Parish officials said the grand opening of the Wetland Watchers Park in the Bonnet Carre Spillway will coincide with the parish’s annual Fall Trash Bash event.

The 28-acre park, a haven for education, recreation and restoration in St. Charles Parish, will open Oct. 2 at noon with a ribbon cutting ceremony and other special events, said St. Charles Public Information Officer Renee Simpson. The event will feature food booths and a performance by Louisiana’s own Amanda Shaw. Simpson said Shaw will begin playing at noon, and the ribbon cutting ceremony will begin at 1 p.m.

Simpson said the grand opening will follow the parish’s Trash Bash roadside litter cleanup event, which runs from 8-11:30 a.m.

“Residents are urged to volunteer to help beautify the parish for the many outdoor activities planned through the end of the year,” Simpson said. “The Trash Bash has always been a successful part of our cleanup efforts along the major streets in the parish. It is great way for students to gain service hours required by schools and other organizations. Volunteers will decide which areas they wish to clean, and they are asked to prepare for working outside by bringing water and other needed supplies.”

Simpson said during this past spring’s Trash Bash in March, more than 250 volunteers filled approximately 229 garbage bags with 9,160 pounds of garbage over 69 miles of roadway.

Wetland Watchers Park is located directly to the east of the Bonnet Carre Spillway’s Lower Guide Levee on the shores of Lake Pontchartrain. The park includes a nature trail, an outdoor classroom, a small parking area and some picnic shelters. Simpson said contractors are adding better access roads, as well as a 2,000-square-foot pavilion.

Simpson said Echo Ventures of Norco, the contractor working the project, is nearing completion on a $515,000 contract that was awarded in October 2009. She said work was stalled on the project until February by federal permit delays, as well as negotiations on an access agreement with the Army Corps of Engineers.

The park is the centerpiece of the LaBranche Wetland Watchers program, a service-learning project created in 1998 by Barry Guillot, a teacher at Harry Hurst Middle School in Destrehan.

Officials will also dedicate the Dow Palmetto Outdoor Classroom.

Simpson said the ribbon cutting only represents phase one of the park. An additional phase is also planned.

All proceeds from sales and other fundraising activities at the ribbon cutting will help south Louisiana residents and wildlife affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Simpson said.

Those interested volunteering for Trash Bash should contact Chandra Sampey of the Contract Monitor’s Office at (985) 764-1207 to arrange a time to pick up cleaning supplies. Residents can also sign up online at

For more information on the Wetland Watchers Park event, call (985) 783-5182 or visit