What makes a great lakefront?
One that is accessible…an edge you can see, approach, and get onto. A place offering an array of beneficial uses and activities for the community. A safe and resilient shoreline, capable of flexing, and, as needed, recovering from mother nature’s worst. A shoreline with a thriving ecology. A place that takes a moment to tell its story, delving into the memory and showcasing the spirit of its inhabitants.
A great lakefront is all these things, but most importantly it’s one that is used and enjoyed. Use and enjoyment is at the heart of this Vision Planning effort.
What helped ignite this planning effort? For anyone walking by or taking their boat onto Lake Pontchartrain, it’s clear Bucktown Harbor has left untapped its potential to be a better place. The true ignition point, however, was Jefferson Parish recognizing the clear need to (re)start a dialogue about how best this asset should be used and enjoyed. For this reason, the planning process was unabashedly community driven and represents the culmination of extensive public dialogue on what residents would like to see emerge over time along this 30-acre peninsula and harborfront.
The Vision Plan presented herein is a starting point for continued discussion of what’s possible—and actionable. It outlines a series of follow-on efforts involving funding identification, detailed design, and ultimate implementation of renewal efforts.
A Vision Rooted in a Strong Public Participation Process
Planmaking is about building public trust and working collaboratively to translate community desire into compelling, actionable projects. To advance these aims, the consultant established a comprehensive outreach effort that included a series of public work sessions paired with a website and survey platform. This combination of meetings and online input yielded favorable results, both in terms of participation and clear community direction for the future of Bucktown Harbor.
The Bucktown Harbor public engagement process involved meetings and outreach across three formats: Project Steering Committee, community work sessions, and web-based outreach. Each played a vital role in framing project issues and guiding the planmaking effort.
Bucktown Harbor Project Steering Committee
A nineteen-member project steering committee consisting of Bucktown and Parish citizens, business owners, and elected officials met monthly to help guide the planning process. This group was the “advance team” used to expediently collect project data, review initial concepts, and assist in getting the word out about community work sessions and online outreach events.
Community Work Sessions
Two multi-day community work sessions were held over the course of the planning effort. Both sessions were held at the Lakeshore Playground Meeting Room (1125 Rosa Avenue, Metairie) and included public drop-in sessions and formal project presentations.
Community Work Session One, entitled Your Lakefront, Past and Present, was held on January 17 and 18, 2018. This session was designed to create a collective public understanding about the issues and opportunities facing Bucktown Harbor and have an open dialogue as to the best ways to address these. The first community work session also stimulated discussion on what uses and projects the community would prefer at Bucktown Harbor. Approximately 100 citizens participated.
Community Work Session Two was held on February 6 and 7, 2018. This second session, entitled Future Visions of Bucktown Harbor and Lakefront, presented several planning visions for the lakefront and elicited community feedback as to a preferred direction forward. Forty citizens attended Session Two.
Bucktown Harbor Website and Survey Effort
A project website—www.BucktownHarbor.com—was launched in early January to serve as an information portal and garner community feedback. Content was tailored to reflect project materials from each community work session, and, importantly, ask a series of questions about what the community wants and prefers (from offered options). The website offered open ended questions to gather community ideas and points-of-view. Digital copies of all community presentations, poster-sized graphics, and survey results were also made available via the project website.
How did residents find out about the website? In short, lots of ways. Jefferson Parish social media outlets provided posts and updates about community meetings and the website as did the project-maintained Twitter feed @BucktownHarbor. Facebook ads announcing the community work sessions and website were also placed for zip codes containing and surrounding Bucktown Harbor (70001, 70002, 70005, and 70124). These zip codes represent an estimated 44,560 households. Local news media and word of mouth also provided an important means to let residents know about the project and website.
Overall, the website was well received by all involved, garnering over 22,500 views and 231 subscribers. Over 900 individuals answered one or more survey questions, generating 11,763 survey responses.
THE VISION PLAN
The Bucktown Harbor Vision Plan provides new opportunities for recreation, boating, and other activity while supporting a strong community through thoughtfully designed public spaces and environmental preservation areas. Intentional planning and a strong community-led design are the foundation of the Vision Plan. By focusing on key areas and stating core project tenets, Bucktown Harbor Marina and its waterfront enlivens itself with new possibilities.
The Vision Plan seeks to strike a balance between all target market categories – passive and active recreation, recreational boating, fishing, and supported activities. Creating a harbor site with strong active and passive recreation zones, along with extensive in-water recreational boating and fishing facilities, is indicative of what the community requested for Bucktown Harbor.
The Vision Plan balances programmed and natural spaces, demonstrating a rich diversity of experiences for both active and passive uses. The site’s shoreline is engineered in two aspects: the western side incorporates bio-engineering and green infrastructure through a living, natural shoreline, while the eastern side is constructed with hard materials to accommodate the placemaking needs of the marina and multi-purpose pavilion.
As visitors cross over Lake Pontchartrain Levee to enter the site, they’re greeted by bike and pedestrian passersby making their way on the levee and Lakefront Trail. As paving texture changes, the open air multi-use pavilion and other signage and art welcomes visitors to Bucktown Harbor. The multi-purpose pavilion is the architecture and social anchor of the harbor and is the location of alternating programming and activities, inclusive of a seasonal farmers market. This facility also honors Bucktown’s fishing heritage and is a boost for local small businesses. Recreational boating slips and concrete terraced seating into the water allow residents and visitors a chance to share in the experience along the water’s edge.
An interconnected trail network promotes accessibility within the site and externally to the greater Bucktown community. Moving through the site, ample parking is centrally located to better serve the needs of the community.
From there, programmatic elements spiral off the center to provide varying opportunities for passive and active recreation. Bucktown Harbor becomes the point of choice for lake activities as a recreation hub. Small pavilions situated in open lawns are ideal for picnics and shelter from the sun. Terraced lawn panels play with the land’s nuanced contours, creating tiered seating overlooking Lake Pontchartrain. A playground and central water feature incorporate both whimsical and wet elements.
A kayak launch juts out adjacent to the Bucktown Marsh Boardwalk and nature preserve. The entire western and northern side of the site is dedicated to a living shoreline restoration with breakwaters, high-marsh shrubs, and mainland-fringing tidal marsh to create a natural, resilient shore. This allows the site to emerge as a model of environmental stewardship and coastal restoration. A fishing pier cuts across the living shoreline to allow fisherman/pedestrian access through the marsh to deep water. The shoreline curves northward, allowing vast views across Lake Pontchartrain. A harbor beacon terminates the jut out portion of the site, offering a notable landmark for boaters and land visitors alike.
The marina itself undergoes improvements, adding new marina recreational boat slips to meet the growing demand in the south sub-shore market. A new dockmaster building supporting marina services and restrooms is centrally provided along with a recreational float and storage building. The Bucktown Harborwalk connects the eastern program elements, tying the marina to the open air multi-use pavilion.
IMPLEMENTATION AND NEXT STEPS
EARLY ACTION INITIATIVES
ASSESSMENT OF BUCKTOWN HARBOR ENTRANCE AND BASIN CONDITIONS
This project is an essential precursor to all envisioned harbor improvements and of critical concern to the USCG for continued operations from Station New Orleans. The study should assess wave intensity, sediment transfer, and other issues arising from the reconfigured harbor entrance and new 17th Street Canal Pump Station (aka the Permanent Canal Closures & Pumps project). The Design and Ultimate Reconfiguration of the Harbor Entrance would follow this study effort.
ADJUST / REMOVE EXISTING CONCRETE BARRICADES
This relatively small action provides an early win, giving the public a tangible initial outcome associated with the vision planning effort. The project should include grading activities in the current inaccessible area of Bucktown Harbor as well as erection of a temporary enclosure around the present commercial fishing operational float.
BUCKTOWN MARSH BOARDWALK
This project, consisting of a /-950-foot boardwalk along the edge of the existing marsh area, has advanced into preliminary design and permitting and is awaiting additional grant and other funding to continue. Construction is anticipated to commence in 2019, and—similar to adjustment / removal of the existing project barricades—is considered a tangible initial outcome associated with the Vision Planning effort.
TREE PLANTING SITEWIDE
Improved landscape and shade throughout the entire Bucktown Harbor site was an important objective stated by community members. Relevant Jefferson Parish departments and other groups should work together to define an appropriate tree and plant palette for the site, with consideration given to salt tolerance, root structure, maintenance, and other factors. Off and on-site nurseries of desirable species should be established to allow for strategic tree planting sitewide as early as possible.
The Bucktown Harbor Multi-Purpose Pavilion is considered the project’s “Swiss Army knife” of public spaces, able to be used and activated for all nature of seasonal markets, educational sessions, and other public activities. This pavilion has the potential to set the architectural tone for the balance of other site buildings and structures, and, as such, should be considered of interest for study by regional universities, designers, and artists. Either through design competition or a traditional request for qualifications, Jefferson Parish should advance architectural schematic design and develop the concept and project opinions of probable costs useful for grant applications and other funding initiatives.
BUCKTOWN HARBOR LIVING SHORELINE PHASE ONE
This project effort seeks to adapt existing engineered shoreline to reintroduce a series of marshland zones protected by a radiating series of natural breakwater structures and other features along the stretch of site edge from the existing marsh to the proposed fishing pier. The project’s intent—aligned with others planned for the site and stretching to Bonnabel Boat Launch—is to restore indigenous marshland and ecological features while also increasing the resilience of the levee system. The Vision Plan recommends advancing project study and schematic design as well as an opinion of probable costs useful for grant applications and other funding initiatives.
SOUTHERN PASSIVE RECREATIONAL LAWN
This space is closest to the existing levee and residential areas and is intended to be a well-used, nearby park with amble landscape and facilities supporting outdoor classes, bocce ball, and other passive recreation activities.
CHAMPIONING THE EFFORT FORWARD
Implementation of the Vision Plan will require focused activity and energy by individuals and groups over the coming months and years. Perhaps most critical will be to keep the momentum going following this planning process; and, to this end, we recommend a Bucktown Harbor Action Committee be formed from willing members of the Project Steering Committee and others identified by Jefferson Parish. This committee should be tasked with:
- Review and establishment of a permanent entity dedicated to advancing design, funding, and projects identified under (or following) the vision planning effort. Organizational models for consideration include: the Patrons of Lafreniere Park (with the Lafreniere Park Advisory Board and Jefferson Parish Department of Parks and Recreation); the City Park Board of Commissioners and Friends of City Park; and the Bryant Park Corporation (BPC), a not-for-profit, private management company founded to renovate and operate Bryant Park in New York City.
- Work with the Parish to identify needed guidelines, zoning, permitting, and other regulatory elements to solidify the community’s vision and uses for the site.
- Work with Parish and other outside experts to advance grant writing and other funding initiatives needed for early action initiatives.
- Develop a website, social media, and other information platforms designed to continually keep the community up-to-date on planned events and overall advancement of the vision plan and key initiatives.
THE FULL VISION PLAN
Want to spend time reviewing in detail the final plan? Found in the Documents section below are downloadable Low Res and High Res versions of the Vision Book.
The Bucktown Harbor Vision Plan is an initiative sponsored by Jefferson Parish and assembled by the consulting team of Moffatt & Nichol and Barowka and Bonura Engineers and Consultants (BBEC).
A nineteen-member project steering committee consisting of citizens, business owners, and elected officials from Bucktown and the region met monthly to help guide the planning process. We thank the committee for their tireless effort and support.
- Lauren Averill
- Joel Borrello
- Barbara Chifici
- Louis “Woody” Crews
- Rusty Gaude
- Kelly Turan (for Peter Gerica)
- Mike Hollis
- Allyson Hymel
- Dan Favre
- Daniel Redmann
- Mark Schexnayder
- Melinda Schwegmann
- Jeffrey Simno
- Elizabeth Spansel
- Dr. Bob Thomas
- Councilwoman Jennifer Van Vrancken
- Leo Webb
- Steve Wobbema
- Maggie Woodruff