New park parking plan welcomed by Plaquemine homeowners

Large events send cars to nearby streets

The city’s plan to increase parking options at Bayou Plaquemine Waterfront Park is getting traction as the Board of Selectmen prepares to spend $150,000 next year to convert a nearby 3-acre site into a parking lot for more than 200 vehicles.

And the project couldn’t come soon enough for residents living in the area who say their neighborhood streets are often lined with cars any time large-scale events are held at the award-winning recreational park.

“This is really going to enhance the neighborhood,” Selectman Lindon “Lin” Rivet said Monday.

Rivet, who lives across the street from Bayou Plaquemine Waterfront Park, said the lack of parking became apparent to city officials as the Waterfront park’s popularity grew each year the city hosted events such as its Fourth of July celebration there.

“We went from 500 people to up to 10,000 people nowadays,” he said. “The parking just really became a problem up and down residential streets in the area.”

The city gave the public its first view of how officials intend to address the park’s parking problem by releasing a rendering of the parking lot that will be built on the vacant Nadler Foundry properly located across the street from the park.

The rendering, from Fusion Architecture in Baton Rouge, shows the new parking lot will add about 200 parking spaces for Plaquemine Bayou Waterfront Park as well as bathroom facilities, landscaped greenery and possible accommodations for recreational vehicle use.

The park’s current lot, located off La. 1, can only accommodate about 75 cars.

Mayor Mark “Tony” Gulotta said the project has been in the works for more than a decade.

Gulotta said financing for the new lot is a part of the more than $16 million in capital outlay expenditures earmarked in the city’s 2014 budget the Plaquemine Board of Selectmen approved in October.

In addition to the new parking lot, the city also will spend approximately $12 million in 2014 on construction of a new state-of-the-art sewer plant.

“We think (the new lot) will suffice for about 80 percent of the events we have out there,” Gulotta said. “It’s all we can really do right now.”

The mayor said the Nadler property has been an eyesore for years in the community. The city’s purchased the lot from the Nadler family for $450,000 last year with the intention of converting it into a lot for the Waterfront Park.

Preliminary construction of the property facelift began this year when most abandoned buildings on the property were demolished and the city cleared away most of the overgrown bushes and debris.

Gulotta said the city hopes to advertise for bids on the project in February and immediately begin construction.

“We’re hoping to have it done by our (2014) Fourth of July celebration,” he said.