BUCKTOWN -- Since Hurricane Katrina, the Bucktown Lakefront has been more or less a staging area for Army Corps of Engineers contractors building the new permanent pumping stations at the mouth of the 17th Street Canal.

As the work now winds down, Jefferson Parish is considering how to return this area to its past glory.

"Jefferson Parish started leasing the Bucktown Marina site from the state more than a decade ago," JP District 5 Council member Jennifer Van Vrancken said. "But, there's been very little that's been built out to enhance the space."

Locals remember Bucktown for Sid-Mars restaurant, shrimp boats docked on the 17th Street canal and fishing camps along Lake Pontchartrain.

Tuesday, there are two piers in the harbor, one for fishing vessels, the other for recreational boats.

LAND FOR GROWTH

The marina is surrounded by about 40 acres of mostly undeveloped land.

Bucktown neighbor Michael Byrne hopes future plans for the area include lots of open spaces.

"Just leave me a little space for me and my dog," Byrne said. "They can develop it some what. Just leave a little bit of an open area, maybe put another little dog park out here."

Glen Jacques docks his sailboat at the Bucktown Marina.

"Commercial development, I'm not crazy about that idea as much," Jacques said. "There's space for that, but this is a recreational area."

IDEAS BEGIN TO FLOW

Van Vrancken says so far people have suggested things like biking and walking trails and even a farmers market.

"Right now, we have a lease with the state of Louisiana for the Bucktown property that prohibits commercial uses," Van Vrancken said. "So, it has to be things that are open to the public, more recreational in nature, but we don't want to rule out any ideas the community wants to explore."

Development of the old West End area across the canal is more complicated.

In its heyday, restaurants like Fitzgeralds, Brunings and Jaeger's hung over the water.

That won't be part of the redevelopment there because of the new pumping station.

"Those pumps will have water rushing out into where the restaurants used to be," Van Vrancken said. "So, we will have to explore building on the land, building on that old parking lot. There's a lot of discussion that has to happen."

PLANS FOR RESTAURANT ON HOLD

The West End parking lot is on land shared by Jefferson and Orleans parishes.

Plans for a new restaurant there called The Dock are in a holding pattern while parking issues are worked out.

If you want to be part of an open house to help create a shared vision for the Bucktown Harbor side, Jefferson Parish is holding two public input sessions this week.They will be held at Metairie's Lakeshore Playground meeting room, near West Esplanade and Oaklawn, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.on Thursday.

If you can't make either meeting, you can fill out a online survey here.