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Louisiana’s St. Bernard State Park, closed more than 15 months since it was inundated with 10 feet of floodwater during Hurricane Katrina, will reopen Tuesday (Dec. 19) after a facelift costing nearly $1 million.
The Associated Press reported that officials hope the opening of the park, located in Chalmette, will give a boost to the rebuilding of St. Bernard Parish and its tourism industry.
Stuart Johnson, assistant secretary for the Office of State Parks, said he hopes the park’s opening will mean some of its regular out-of-state Sugar Bowl visitors will make reservations. The park, like Bayou Segnette State Park in Westwego, is near downtown New Orleans events and has had out-of-state visitors regularly fill its 51 campsites at $16-a-night for big events such as Carnival and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu, who leads Louisiana’s Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, said the state renovated all the flooded buildings in the 356-acre Caernarvon park, renovated the campground’s electrical system with upgrades for the electric hookups for the campsites and replaced the chlorination system for the park’s Olympic-sized pool.
“It’s been basically been redone. It is a big piece of our state park system,” Landrieu said. “Hopefully, it will be used as another rallying cry to move St. Bernard along more quickly. (Locals) are doing a great job, and we think this is our way to help.”
Spurred by its proximity to downtown New Orleans, the park got about 46,000 visitors a year before Hurricane Katrina. Landrieu said the visitors combined for an annual economic impact of about $2 million.
With its reopening, the state park will join three others in the area – Fontainebleau and Fairview-Riverside in St. Tammany Parish and Tickfaw in Livingston Parish – that offer campsites for public rental. The 98 overnight campsites at Bayou Segnette in Jefferson Parish are not available to the public because they are being leased through March to house trailers for emergency workers and hospitality industry workers, Johnson said.