Bucktown Harbor Plan Causes Waves With Neighbors

Master plan outlines new development, recreational activities
Jenny Peterson/Staff
Scott Lagueux, director of waterfront planning with Moffatt& Nichol, a North Carolina-based consulting firm, speaks about the Bucktown Harbor master plan at a public work session Feb. 7

BUCKTOWN – A dozen Bucktown residents came out determined to oppose any new commercial ventures for the Bucktown Harbor at a public work session on Feb. 7.

They cited traffic, noise and other issues in their opposition to two master-plan options presented by consultants for the Bucktown Harbor, located at the open end of the 17th Street Canal.

The scope of the master plan covers 30 acres, including and surrounding the Bucktown Marina, and was presented by Scott Lagueux, director of waterfront planning with Moffatt& Nichol, a North Carolina-based consulting firm.

Since November 2017, consultants have used feedback from public meetings, more than 700 online surveys and a 19-member steering committee to come up with two options for the site.

“We’re looking for a cohesive vision that is community-driven for the future of Bucktown Harbor,” Lagueux said.

Currently in Bucktown Harbor, commercial fishermen use 30 boat slips with another 40 being rented out to recreational boaters.

There is no formal area for the public, although the Army Corps of Engineers has committed to building a paved walkway near its new pump station at the site for public use, Lagueux said.

He said that according to the online surveys, participants selected “new recreational opportunities” as their top priority for Bucktown Harbor.

Both master plan options include adding nearly 100 more boat slips along with a parking lot for over 200 cars, as well as restrooms, formalized entry points, walking and biking trails, a playground, a kayak launch, a fishing pier and other recreational amenities with pavilions and a passive grassy lawn for yoga or other activities.

“It would have the potential for events with a band stage on the northernmost part of the site with the stage pointing out to the water,” Lagueux said.

There is no recommendation to add any restaurants or other commercial buildings, although kayak rentals and other similar commercial ventures are factored into the plan.

“We don’t want lots of traffic and all of that in our neighborhood,” said resident Darleen Barre. “This (proposed area) is three houses away from me. It’s in our backyard; we live here, and we’d have to hear all that noise and put up with all that traffic.”

All of the land is owned by the state and is leased by Jefferson Parish. Moffatt& Nichol was hired by the parish council to look at ways to improve Bucktown Harbor.

The only part of the consultants’ master plan that residents were in favor of are improvements to a sea wall in order to protect boats in the harbor and improve overall hurricane protection.

Lagueux said the consultants’ recommendation is for the parish to improve that wall first before investing in other elements of the plan.

Fisherman Tony Buffone said he was concerned with the plan to change the location of the loading area for commercial fishermen.

“You try to unload 25 baskets of shrimp and 50 baskets of crabs and carry them over the levee and carry them across the street,” Buffone said.

Residents said they’ve fought plans to redevelop the Bucktown Harbor on several occasions.

“Politicians have been trying to get that property for years,” Barre said.   

Buffone adds, “People have been trying to get this harbor since I was a kid, and they always want to come out here and build things.”

Lagueux said he will present the final master plan to the parish council later this spring, and it will be additionally tweaked based on feedback from the two public meetings held Feb. 6 and Feb. 7.

The online survey will be up until Feb. 25. For detailed information about the plans, or to fill out the survey, visit www.bucktownharbor.com

-By Jenny Peterson, Associate News Editor, Biz New Orleans