$500,000 needed for Bonnabel Boat Launch improvements



Posted on April 10, 2014 at 7:06 PM

Updated Thursday, Apr 10 at 7:20 PM

Bill Capo / Eyewitness News
Email: bcapo@wwltv.com | Twitter: @billcapo

METAIRIE, La. -- Two of the four bays at the Bonnabel boat launch are blocked by barricades, one completely closed, the other allowing only small craft. The remaining two ramps are deteriorating.

Boaters say that creates chaos at the busy launch.

"This place will get 100 to 150 boats in a day," said boater Ronald Coste. "It's a fiasco."

"Unfortunately sometimes the frustration level gets to the point that people in the water, or bringing their boats from the water, get into arguments with one another," added boater Jay Hebert.

"We have the police out here," said Coste. "There's fights going on."

The Jefferson Recreation Department is studying the problem by using divers and high tech sensors. They've learned the underwater concrete ramps on the 30-year-old launch are breaking up.

"This is the one that the planks have shifted, they actually got on top, and so the trailers couldn't back down, so we had to close this one," said Assistant Jefferson Recreation Director Leo Webb.

Parish officials have put together a plan to replace the concrete pads on all four launches. They have $200,000 on hand right now, much of it from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. But the total cost is expected to be $725,000, because this is a major project.

"We're going to do it right," said Webb. "We're going to do it pile supported, poured slabs, monolithically, all concrete. We're going to extend the length, we're going to change the angle a little bit so the boats get off the trailers quicker."

When the funds are in place, they'll need to wall off this area and drain the water to rebuild the launches.

"Hopefully around December or January we could start doing the work," said Webb, who added that it should be ready for next spring.

"Sounds hopeful," said Coste.

"We'd be tickled pink," said Hebert.

Recreation leaders are meeting with top parish officials and wildlife and fisheries agents to seek the rest of the funding needed for the project.