Lakefront property facelift long overdue
The lakefront property just off the Interstate 10 bridge in Lake Charles has long been in need of a facelift.
Now the city is poised to have a project that could improve the area and possibly attract further development down the road.
Last week, city and state officials announced a $20 million project known as Port Wonder.
Located between Cypress Alligator Pond and the former Harrah’s Casino parking garage, it will house the Children’s Museum of Lake Charles and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ Science Center and Educational Complex.
Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter called the facility a welcome addition to the lakefront and a "game changer for locals and tourism."
The facility will surely get some of the tens of thousands of drivers who travel along I-10 to stop and see what it’s all about.
Along with the new facility, the project calls for renovating the parking garage, which has sat idle since Hurricane Rita severely damaged it and the Harrah’s Casino property in 2005.
Since then, the garage has turned into an eyesore and has not been the ideal welcome sign for tourists who are being introduced to Lake Charles.
Port Wonder has financial backing from several agencies, and Hunter said he expects it to be fully funded. The Louisiana Trustee Implementation Group still has to give final approval of the location and design changes for the science center and education complex.
Another bonus is that the combination of public and private dollars funding this project is enough to forego residents having to pay any new taxes.
State officials — including Gov. John Bel Edwards and Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Jack Montoucet — have also backed Port Wonder.
State Sen. Ronnie Johns said the project is "a perfect example" of how state and local government, along with private business, can work together to make major development a reality.
This development is also helping the Children’s Museum expand in ways that they could not have done alone. Providing an updated facility for our children is exactly how we can make a lasting difference in the city.
Lakefront development has been lacking in Lake Charles for some time. With the announcement of Port Wonder, we finally have something to look forward to.