LEEVILLE, La. -- Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne came to Leeville with good news.
"Leeville's greatest days are ahead of her," said Dardenne as residents applauded.
The 200-year-old village was once known for orange groves, but recent years have been tough for this fishing community since the new elevated Louisiana Highway 1 bridge diverted traffic and customers away from Leeville.
"About 60 percent, I would think, at least 60, a strong 60," said Ben Griffin of Griffin's Marina.
"Since this bridge bypassed Leeville, at the restaurant that I own, we lost anywhere from 30-35 percent of our business," said Harris Cheramie, owner of Leeville Seafood Restaurant.
"There are 67 cultural districts in Louisiana. Leeville is now one of them," said Dardenne.
Dardenne named Leeville the first cultural district in Lafourche Parish, and it coincided with plans to build a $1.5 million public boat launch at the end of old Highway 1 with two boat launches, and a kayak launch, a wheelchair accessible fishing pier, pavilion, and parking for 50 vehicles.
"An opportunity for a whole lot of people to access some really great fishing," predicted Lafourche Parish President Charlotte Randolph.
They hope to start the bidding in about a month and have the work start a couple of months after that. The plan is to have the fishing pier, the whole facility open by the beginning of next summer, and that's when they hope Leeville will become a destination for fishermen.
"They save money by coming here, launching, and maybe when they pass on the boats, they might stop in my restaurant," said Cheramie.
"It's the whole town that's gonna prosper from this, very much so," predicted Griffin. "It's gonna bring Leeville back to life."