Apr 052012

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser wants to build an airfield and marina near the mouth of the Mississippi River to lure wealthy boat owners to South Louisiana where they can take advantage of access to some of the world’s best fishing opportunities.

Speaking at English Turn on Wednesday to a meeting of the Algiers Economic Development Foundation, Nungesser unveiled a Plaquemines master plan that calls for an airport south of Myrtle Grove with a long runway that can accommodate the largest and latest corporate jets and other private aircraft. The marina would be located within easy reach of the mouth of the river and the fertile fishing grounds of the Gulf of Mexico.

Nungesser also wants to fund construction of a bypass road that would link Myrtle Grove to downtown New Orleans so conventioneers could access the Plaquemines marina in less than half an hour. “We can build a modern road that would have only two stop lights between downtown New Orleans and Myrtle Grove,” said Nungesser. “Our goal is to take full advantage of the incredible fishing and hospitality available in Plaquemines to the owners of thousands of very expensive boats and private aircraft who have the leisure and the affluence to enjoy the very best. Right now, we have hundreds of luxury boats moored in Plaquemines Parish in Venice but that is only the tip of the spear. There are thousands of boats in Florida because it is so much easier to access than Plaquemines Parish. But, if we build the by-pass road, the marina and the airfield, we can compete with anyone in the world.”

The Plaquemines Parish President said he is prepared to ask voters in Plaquemines to approve a master plan bond issue to fund part of the project. He is seriously considering the possibility of a public-private partnership because he thinks that’s the way to move the project quickly. “Government moves too slowly for my taste,” said Nungesser. “We have already received inquiries that tell me there are private investment groups and individuals who would have some interest in what we’re proposing. My hope would be that we could have this project well on the way to completion in three years, just as my second term as Plaquemines Parish President would be ending.”

Nungesser said if it all comes to pass, there would be benefits for the City of New Orleans as well as Plaquemines Parish. “New Orleans is already one of the great convention cities in America but they could be even bigger if one of their sales pitches was a day of fishing in the Gulf of Mexico that was easily accessed on the finest fishing boats with the best charter captains in the world. I think it’s very exciting and I’m ready to go to work on it right now.”

Allan Katz spent 25 years as a political reporter and columnist at The Times-Picayune, and is now editor of the Kenner Star and host of several televsion programs, including the Louisiana Newsmaker on Cox Cable. Danae Columbus is executive producer of Louisiana Newsmaker, and has had a 30-year career in public relations, including stints at City Hall and the Dock Board. Among the recent candidates who have been represented by their public relations firm are City Councilwoman Stacy Head, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and state Rep. Robert Billiot.

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