Far down near the end of Delacroix Highway, dozens of proud parish residents gathered on Thursday to celebrate the opening of a new pier that was made possible through a generous donation of land by the Arlene and Joseph Meraux Charitable Foundation.
The Meraux Foundation donated waterfront property at 5565 Delacroix Highway to St. Bernard Parish for the new pier as well as property across the highway for a soon to be constructed shipyard. Located close to fishing waters, vessels will not need to travel as far inland for repairs. This shorter trip will save fishermen time and money.
“Fishermen are the backbone of the St. Bernard Parish economy, and they play an important role in preserving our culture. That’s why we are so proud to donate this land so that it might be of a benefit to them,” said Rita Gue, the president of the Meraux Foundation.
The new pier includes a pavilion and underwater lights for fishing. It is free and open to the public seven days a week around the clock.
The next phase of the project will include a dry dock and shipyard. Large vessels will be able to be lifted out of the water and brought across the highway to a fenced in shipyard. Parish officials are looking to have this phase completed by the end of the year.
“We’re so proud of what we did down here in Delacroix through the leadership of our Council, in particular, Council Member Montelongo…and to partner with the Meraux Foundation — as we do all over the parish — to enhance the quality of life,” said St. Bernard Parish President Guy McInnis. “To have this dry dock where our commercial fishermen can work on their boats in their community and get them back faster means a lot to us, and we thank the Meraux Foundation for making that happen.”
McInnis pointed out the importance of the fishing industry outside of levee protection to the long term viability of St. Bernard Parish. This is one of the most significant commercial fishing areas in Louisiana according to Louis Pomes, an official with the Department of Public Works who oversaw the construction of the pier.
“This shipyard is very important to commercial fishermen,” said Pomes, who explained that, currently, fishermen may lose a day’s work traveling further inland to dry dock and getting materials to fix their boats.
“It couldn’t have been done without them. We couldn’t have had the dry dock, we couldn’t have had the boat trolley slip, we couldn’t have had the pier over the water without the donation from the Meraux Foundation,” said Pomes.
President McInnis and others recognized the leadership of Parish Council Member Manuel “Monty” Montelongo who led the effort to build the pier and shipyard.
“There are lot of people who need to be thanked for this project. This has been a dream in my mind for the last ten years, ever since I started thinking about running for office, said Montelongo shortly before cutting the ribbon to open the pier. “We’ve been needing this for a long time, it’s always been in my heart to do it.”