COURTHOUSE PROJECT . . .
We’re glad to see that bids have finally been awarded for construction of the St. Martin Parish Courthouse Annex, which will be built on the property immediately across St. Martin Street from the old courthouse and Law Enforcement Center in St. Martinville.
Parish voters approved bonds for the project more than three years ago, but a major bump in the road occurred when Hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit the state in 2005, throwing the construction industry into chaos and so much effort went into reconstruction. And parish officials tried unsuccessfully to acquire the small corner lot at the southwest edge of the site so the design of the annex had to be tweaked a bit to work around the property.
But after all these months a construction contract will be signed with Master Builders of Lafayette at a cost of $3.32 million and work should begin shortly.
The new building will house the offices of the assessor, clerk of court and registrar of voters. Once they’ve moved out of the old courthouse the historic antebellum structure will be gutted and renovated to house the district attorney’s operations and the activities of the 16th Judicial District Court.
It will likely be another four or five years before everything’s done, but it should be well worth the wait.
RV PARK . . .
News that the state has decided to put in RV park facilities in the Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site is quite a feather in the caps of St. Martinville officials and our legislative delegation.
The city has been trying to develop an RV campground here for a number of years, rightly figuring that St. Martinville may never see a motel built in or near the city. While we have some great tourist attractions here, tourists usually end up spending the night (and big bucks) in Lafayette, New Iberia or Breaux Bridge hotels/motels or at nearby RV parks. So local businesses usually miss out on much of the revenues that are associated with tourism.
For a while it looked like the old J.B. Talley complex on the bayou just off Main Street might do as the site of an RV park. Then some involved in the planning thought it would be better to put the campground in Magnolia Park and tried to get the state to let the city have a couple of acres of Longfellow-Evangeline along the boundary between the parks. But for years state officials said no to that idea.
But the recent renovation of Longfellow-Evangeline, which opened a new entrance to the new interpretive center, has led to the closing off of the portion of the historic site near the amphitheater and north along Bayou Teche. Visitors to the new Acadian homestead constructed along the bayou are encouraged to walk along a picturesque trail that leads from the interpretive center directly to the homestead.
That leaves at least five or six acres of oak shaded bayou front property along the old road (still in good shape) that runs from the amphitheater to the homestead that could be developed into RV sites with relatively minor impact on the historic portion of the park. The old entrance is still in place and could be used by campers to access the campsites without going by the interpretive center.
I would guess that the bayou side property and area near the amphitheater could easily accommodate 20 or 30 very attractive campsites, possibly more.
And while the bayou bank is pretty overgrown now, it could be cleared and made into an attractive waterfront that would be very inviting for visitors and boaters alike.
I don’t imagine the project will materialize in the immediate future, but I’m sure looking forward to seeing it one day.
THIS & THAT
Class of 2008 – Parish high school graduation ceremonies are this Friday evening, marking a major milestone for local teens. We offer them our congratulations along with a suggestion that they pursue even more education and/or training in practical skills and a plea that they be extra careful while celebrating this very special occasion. While they’ve successfully completed an important phase of their lives, the school of hard knocks is waiting out there in the real world.