The Board of Directors for Friends of Bayou Lafourche (FOBL), Inc. revealed the Nicholls State University Bayou-Side Comprehensive Master plan in 2017 in order to “collaborate with the University to establish a program for the (bayou-side) property with an emphasis on faculty, staff, student, and public recreation,” according to the Friends of Bayou Lafourche website.
The funding was acquired from Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou to procure a landscape architecture team with Duplantis Design Group in 2018 to design a phased master plan along with Nicholls administration, faculty, staff, student leaders, and community key stakeholders. FOBL immediately started seeking funding sources to pay for the construction of the bayou-side park. The Bayou Lafourche Fresh Water District had a critical role in assisting with the acquisition of construction dollars for the renovation project. By mid-2019, FOBL secured enough funding to move along the process to the design and construction of the first phase. Funding for the first phase was provided by the Louisiana Recreational Trails Program, the Lorio Foundation, Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou, and Friends of Bayou Lafourche. T. Baker Smith was hired in 2020 to design the project, which included topographic surveys, a geotechnical study, and engineering. Permitting and construction bidding was completed in late 2020.
The master plan includes and is not limited to boardwalks, a floating dock, an outdoor classroom, an amphitheater, sculpture pads, walking trails, off-street parking, a pavilion, a boathouse, special-use boat launch, covered seating, a multi-use building, and enhancements to Hwy. 1.
“The excitement and enthusiasm around this project has been extremely encouraging,” said Ryan M. Perque, Executive Director for Friends of Bayou Lafourche. “This project is one of a kind in our region and will be a great asset for Bayou Lafourche and Nicholls. We are thrilled to begin the next stage of this project which includes funding and construction.”
A ground-breaking ceremony was held on January 27 to jump-start the beginning of the first phase and construction began February 1 by the Foret Contracting Group. The park was anticipated to be ready for public use in May 2021; however, there have been some setbacks, including the amount of rain the area has experienced throughout the past three months, Perque said.
Perque updated the progress thus far. As of today, a bulk of the parking lot is paved and both the boardwalk and floating docks are in place. Still on the to-do list is the remainder of the parking lot, steps leading down to the dock, the boat ramp, to pour the slab and construct the pavilion, and to extend the walking trails. It is not yet open to the public, but FOBL will have a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of the project.
For updates and more information, follow Friends of Bayou Lafourche on Facebook, or visit www.bayoulafourche.org.