Restore Fort Jackson and Fort St. Philip
PLAQUEMINES PARISH | SECTOR: ECONOMIC AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT
STRATEGIC RECOVERY GOAL:SPACE Expand existing and develop new cultural and recreational opportunities while preserving the historical identity of the parish.
 
ADDRESS: Route 1, Box 640 ; Port Sulphur , LA 70083 AREA:
TARGET START DATE: 04/01/2006 DURATION: 24 Months
 
 
DESCRIPTION:
Description: Restore two historic forts to pre-Katrina and Rita condition as a first steps toward building a National Historic Battlefield Park or other National Park and begin exploration of National Park status. These two forts, directly across the Mississippi from each other are valuable national historic landmarks that reflect the military history of the mouth of the Mississippi River for almost 300 years, through French and Spanish possession in the 1700s and then through U.S. military during the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Spanish-American War, the Civil War (Fort Jackson was taken by the Confederacy in 1861 and then retaken by Farragut in 1862), and World Wars I and II Fort Jackson was an active military post through WWII and was used as a training area/coastal artillery emplacement and housed German POWS.

The two forts are of sufficient size and area to accommodate public use and have sufficient infrastructure once renovated to provide space for several kinds of activities and venues, including walking tours, guided tours, historic museum, outdoor light shows, picnicking, etc. The area is well known for recreation as Parish residents have used it for generations for day trips and recreational purposes. Their historic value is appreciated by parish residents and others who find their way to the forts. Both sites have played critically decisive roles in the history of the United States and named by both the National Park Service and the National Trust to their list of the most endangered historic sites. Fort Jackson has served as a Parish-owned park since 1962 but as a result of Hurricane Katrina sustained a great deal of minor damage including being submerged for nearly six weeks under about eight feet of water

Scope of the Project:
1. Ensure preservation of historic artifacts at Fort Jackson threatened as a result of Katrina. Approximately 1,600 artifacts were housed in the museum at Fort Jackson. This extensive Civil War collection was decimated by the water but FEMA and National Park volunteers temporarily stabilized (3-6 months) much of the collection and moved to a more secure space. In addition, there are larger artifacts including machinery and a small early cemetery on the grounds of the forts. These too could be preserved and protected until the Fort Jackson museum is operational or until they are anchored securely to the site.
2. Hire a senior-level director and administrative staff to lead the restoration and preservation of the forts, to champion the move to a national park, and promote the area for tourism.
3. Establish compatible land use and community planning plans in the Parish and provide permanent easements where necessary.
4. Restore, renovate and re-open Fort Jackson for tourists.
5. Commission development of a Battlefield Preservation Plan (see Guidance for Developing a Battlefield Preservation Plan, National Park Service, American Battlefield Preservation Program, October 2001).
6. Acquire Fort St. Phillip property for the National Historic Trust (or help in having private owners donate it to the Parish). After the Fort was decommissioned, it was purchased by a private family and has been held by them and their descendants since that time. Initial efforts are being made at this time to have them donate the property to the National Trust, which is an appropriate route for turning it over to the National Park Service.
7. Create a blue-ribbon voluntary commission, with broad support, to provide oversight and direction to the part and its resources beyond political interests. The commission should also include the Parish(s), state, national, international, public, private and institutional and NGO’s to ensure their continuing support for the projects.
8. Develop a public involvement and participation process to generate support for the preservation of the forts.
9. Relocate the destroyed Fort Jackson Sports Stadium near the new consolidated Parish high school so it is better suited for the needs of the Parish and does not interfere with the tourism potential for the Fort.
10. Develop a business plan for the Park that encompasses operations, personnel, facilities and financing.
11. Provide Plaquemines Parish with total process to request state and then national consideration of turning forts into the National Park system through an Act of Congress. Initial steps have already been taken for Fort Jackson in this process. (See Criteria for Parklands: Resource Topics for Parklands).
12. Work with Corps of Engineers and team of cultural experts (architects, archaeologists, etc.) to uncover potential early ruins or artifacts at Fort St. Phillip.
13. Renovate and open Fort St. Phillip for tourists. Fort Jackson will require significant cleaning, clearance of trees from its walls and stabilization of the structure. Fort St. Phillip has been virtually abandoned since it was named as surplus government property and sold in the 1920’s It is on a site approximately 150 by 100 yards and includes the old fort, six Spanish American batteries, and numerous out-structures. Fort St Phillip was the major military force preventing the British fleet from sailing up the Mississippi and taking New Orleans during the Battle of New Orleans. The National Park Service has speculated that if Fort St. Phillip were available in 2014-15 it would be an excellent centerpiece, along with Chalmette Battle Field, for the 200th anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans activities and the possible site for a military maritime museum. The two sites could be linked by boat for tourist access.
14. Develop potential for interpretive center for eco-tourism on the Mississippi River in some proximity to the two forts. Coastal subsidence, erosion and the stability of the Mississippi River channel is a national concern. The lower Mississippi River delta is the most logical place in the entire nation to tell the story as it is where the river meets the coast. This could be linked to the forts to create a Lower Mississippi or Forts National Park to create a substantial economic development opportunity for the citizens of Plaquemines as a world class site to show the effects of coastal erosion, subsidence, and man’s involvement with nature. Because of it’s unique location near the mouth of America’s longest river, consolidation of these two forts with other assets owned by the Department of Interior (i.e., Delta. Breton National Wildlife Refuges downriver of the site), the rich historic marine environment, recreational and sight-seeing opportunities, this national park could have the tourism potential of a maritime Yellowstone National Park attracting a half million to million tourists per year. Lake Itasca, where the Mississippi begins, boasts a half million tourists per year traveling to the remote state park annually just to see the small ditch where the Mississippi starts. Until now the mouth of the river has been almost inaccessible. Opening a NPS eco-center as part of the National Park experience would open the lower river to eco-tourism on a scale that may be staggering and drive Plaquemines economic engine for many years to come despite future storms. The forts are located on an ancient Head of Passes. From this site tourists can see cutting banks, building banks, borrow bits, fresh, salt and brackish water, the salt wedge, siphons, an abundance of marine life, animals etc. Just down river they can see the bird foot delta, current Head of Passes, mud lumps, sites of sunken cities and many other things that are unique to the Mississippi River. Geologically and geographically this should be the "Classroom to America" on what is really happening to our coast line.
15. Develop a transportation center in Venice to take people to the National Wildlife Preserves and other places reachable only by boat in the southern part of the Parish. A transportation site in Venice serving as a terminal for tourists wanting to travel to either of the two National Refuge sites and also serving as a clearinghouse for local sport fishing excursions, tour boats for lighthouse/maritime tours, helicopter or seaplane tours, etc. would help make Plaquemines a major tourism destination. This could entice investors to build hotels, restaurants, entertainment facilities, etc. Because tourism has not been a priority in this area, and the sights are unique to this area, tourism would likely increase dramatically once the facilities are available.
16. Develop additional public water and land recreation areas surrounding the parklands.
17. Provide economic development support for tourist services, including hotels and restaurants, near the site of the forts.
18. Prominently feature the forts as a tourist attraction in this Parish and region through brochures, advertising and development of programs and enactments for historians and tourists.

Timeline

Target start date: April 2006

Project duration: 5 years;

COMMUNITY WIDE IMPACT:
Project will bring pride to Plaquemines Parish residents in making a part of their heritage history and providing them the opportunity to preserve the Forts for future generations. In addition, businesses in Plaquemines will be able to take advantage of the larger number of tourists bringing revenue into the parish.
PRIMARY GOAL ADDRESSED BY PARISH: Expand existing and develop new cultural and recreational opportunities while preserving the historical identity of the parish.
Additional Goal
 
PART OF EXISTING PLAN
RELATED PROJECTS:
Project Name Description Level of Importance
DEPENDENCY OF OTHER PROJECTS:
Project Name Description Level of Importance
REGIONAL CONSIDERATIONS
a) What is the expected regional impact of the project?
Increased tourism for the entire Greater New Orleans area and particularly the addition of Plaquemines Parish as a "tourist destination".
 
b) If the project benefits more than one parish, please explain.
More than one Parish has an interest in this project, in fact, the entire state and country and National Park System has interest in restoring this significant part of nation’s history. The economic impact can have significant regional/multi-state impact
 
c) If there is regional support for and/or opposition to the project, please explain.
There is support from many of the local Council. Overall there is great grass root support for the project. The only known opposition comes from local politicians and residents that do not want to relinquish control of the forts to the federal government because they feel they will not have any say in its use. However the parish went on record in 2003 saying they cannot support the park any longer and at that time offered to give it to the state. The state did not have the money or desire to take "another Civil War fort." Since that time the parish historical association has been working with parish government to create a master plan to assess the best use of the forts and recommended the development of a national park between both forts and a Venice Transportation center.
 
d) Describe the projects consistency with regional plans and requirements.
Project is consistent with state Culture, Recreation and Tourism goals to increase tourism in the state and with the Jean LaFitte and other Battle of New Orleans planners who want to capitalize on the 200 year anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans (Fort St.Phillip played a crucial role in the battle).
GOVERNMENTAL APPROVAL/ACTION:
III A. Governmental Approval/Action
Status Target Date Govt. Capacity
Land Use and Zoning Changes
Not Completed 01/01/2007
Plan Approvals
Not Completed 06/01/2006
Environmental Clearance(s)
Not Completed 06/01/2006
Flood Zone and Elevation
Not Completed 07/01/2006
Determinations
Acquisitions
Not Completed 04/01/2007
Inspections
Not Completed
Permitting
Not Completed
Contracting
Not Completed 08/01/2007
Other
Not Completed 10/01/2006
 
OTHER RELEVANT CONDITIONS:
Relevant?
(Y or N)
Condition Description Relevant?
(Y or N)
Condition Description
Y Hazard Mitigation artifact restoration Y Drainage
Y Insurability Y Environmental Remediation
Y Debris Removal trees and debris Y Utilities
Y Clearing Y Road & Infrastructure
Y Demolition Y Water
Y Rebuilding museum Y Sewer
Y Filling Y Flood Mitigation
Y Elevation Y Historic Considerations future protection of historic artifacts and equipm
  N Other
OTHER CONSTRAINTS:
Project may require state and federal permitting depending upon the impact to jurisdictional wetlands and other waters of the US.
PROJECT PROPONENT:
Plaquemines Parish Historic Association, Inc.
Rod Lincoln
10800 River Road
Westwego, LA, 70094
504-431-1111
Rod_Lincoln@FO.Cytec.com
PARTNERS:
James Madere, 504-234-8006
LA Civil War Roundtable
Other Civil/Revolutionary War Historic Societies
National Historic Trust
Avram Fechter Civil War Preservation Trust
National Trust for the Preservation of Historic Lands; National Park Service, David Muth, 504-588-3882, X128
 
STAKEHOLDERS:
Citizens of the United States and the world; National Park Service
FEMA
State Historic Preservation Office
LA State Dept of Culture, Recreation, and Tourism
Plaquemines Parish
Plaquemines Association for Business and Industry
Surrounding Parishes
 
LOCAL CHAMPIONS:
Benny Rouseelle, Parish President; Bill Surpass, Parish Director of Services; Jeff Sutton, Long Term Recovery Team liaison, 504-458-9182; Rod Lincoln, Historian, 10800 River Road, Westwego LA, 70094, 504 431-1111, Phone 504 431 6931, Rod_Lincoln.FO.Cytec.com; Amos Cormier, Parish Council; Mark Cognevich, President, Plaquemines Historic Association, 36120 Hwy 11, Buras, LA, 504-234-1286, cognevich@msrc.org; James Madere, Plaquemines Parish Historic Association, 13061 Hwy 23, Belle Chasse, LA, 504 234 8006
 
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