Editor’s note: The story has been updated since its original publication, correcting the appraised value of the property to $540,000, not $540 million. Daily Report regrets the error.
West Feliciana Parish has acquired 72 acres at the site of the former ferry landing along Mississippi River, parish president Kevin Couhig announced this afternoon.
The deal represents the resolution of a more than five-year court battle between the parish and the Lambert family, with both sides laying claim to the property. The property was purchased through an expropriation process for its appraised value of $540,000, according to a January Parish Council vote authorizing Couhig to finalize the purchase.
To pay for the land, Couhig says the parish is using revenue from an industrial property sale as well as rebates of previously paid legal fees and reserves in its Building and Grounds Fund.
The site will be developed into a park with public access to the river, and it will also serve as the docking point for riverboat cruises by American Steamboat Company and American Cruise Lines.
“I am really pleased to be able to put the discord behind us and begin development of what, I know, will be a centerpiece of recreational, public safety and tourism efforts of the parish,” Couhig says in a prepared statement.
In the coming months, Couhig says, a new parking lot and additional boat ramp will be added at the site. “We are cleaning up the park for people who want to fish both the river and Bayou Sara,” he says.
Officials from the parish and Viking Cruise Line are currently negotiating to make St. Francisville a regular stop once their river excursions begin. West Feliciana Parish secured $3 million in capital outlay funds from the state government to use for the development.