Calcasieu Parish officials broke ground Monday on River Bluff Park in Moss Bluff, a 26.5-acre piece of property that already has improvement work scheduled, including a new boat launch, enhanced parking for boat trailers and vehicles, and a soft boat launch for kayaks and canoes.
Dean Kelly, the parish’s assistant director of facility management, said the first phase of work will cost just over $2.1 million and could take a little over a year to finish. The Police Jury in 2009 purchased the land using $1.5 million in gambling funds.
For several years, the parish has operated a boat launch at the park’s location, commonly referred to as old U.S. 171. The launch will be closed during the first phase of work.
“It’s used a great deal, but I don’t think you’d call it the premier boat launch in Calcasieu Parish,” said Parish Administrator Bryan Beam. “And the people of Moss Bluff said so.”
Kelly said a right-turn lane will be added along Theriot Road “to ease congestion as boaters approach the entry to the boat launch.”
Upon entering the park, he said there will be a parking area for passenger vehicles. A larger parking lot will be built near the boat launch. The parking areas will accommodate 50 boat trailers and 15 vehicles.
Kelly said the existing boat launch will be removed and replaced with a three-lane boat launch that will measure 69 feet long and 48 feet wide. Each launch lane will measure 16 feet in width, similar to the boat launch at Calcasieu Point, he said.
Kelly said a submerged concrete bridge pier foundation made it difficult to navigate around the existing boat launch.
“We have a sign there to keep people from hitting it, but everyone of us that has launched boats here knows it can be a challenge at times,” he said.
The new boat launch will have two wharves that measure 100 feet long and 8 feet wide and will include step-down landings on the outside edge to help people getting in and out of smaller boats.
Kelly said the soft launch will be made of sand and will be located west of the new boat launch. Lake Charles-based McManus Construction will work on the park’s first phase, and D.W. Jessen and Associates are the project engineers.
He said staff is reviewing design work on restrooms that will be built near the boat launch. The cost of that work will be ready for consideration by the Police Jury at the end of this year.
Kelly said the second phase of work includes building a rental pavilion, additional parking, playgrounds and a splash play area. A cost opinion on this phase will also be available for consideration for the 2015 budget report.
District 2 Police Juror James Mayo said the park will “invite a lot of different people to truly experience nature in a different way.” Mayo represents the area where the park is located.
“What’s going to be exciting is how the rest of the parish embraces this jewel being here in Moss Bluff,” he said.
District 1 Police Juror Shannon Spell said the project is “very special” because Moss Bluff has “always kind of struggled with a town center.”
“I believe in my heart that this park will be the beginning of that town center,” he said. “I believe this will be a regional park due to the quality that has been planned, from the input of the citizens and the staff.”
Environmental Resources Management was hired as the park’s design team. Members of the River Bluff Task Force also gave ideas on designs and features for the park during a series of meetings held in 2011.