MANDEVILLE -- Six months after Hurricane Isaac, Fontainebleau State Park is on the up-and-up, with benches, grills and the electrical system damage-free.
"I would probably say about 3/4 of the park is open for visitors and we're ready for the spring and summer season," said Frank Jones, Assistant Park Manager at Fontainebleau.
Campers like Leon Canatella are glad to be back.
"They've really keep the park up nice and got all of the dead trees down and out of the way,” he said, “Fantastic job they've done."
There are still a handful of major fixes at Fontainebleau, including a visitor's center, and the money-makers, the cabins along Lake Pontchartrain. But Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne said Gov. Bobby Jindal’s budget plan for next year is getting in the way of those repairs.
"We're at the tipping point to where we're down to not having any money in that fund for maintenance and repairs," Dardenne said.
He added that’s because state budget plans for the past five years have consistently used repair money, created by revenue from cabins like the ones at Fontainebleau, to fill the gap in basic operating costs.
FEMA will be paying for a majority of the work, but the state will have to match millions. Dardenne said if the administration shifts dollars again, "We don't have any money to go forward with the match, whatever it may be, to rebuild the Fontainebleau cabins."
The administration said the park fund has had between $3-$8 million dollars left over, every year, for the past five years, but it’s aiming to find other dollars to help make the improvements. It’s something park lovers hope gets sorted out soon.
Dardenne said he hopes lawmakers can find a way to keep the repair fund intact during the legislative session, which begins next month.