Budget cuts threaten Palmetto Island State Park

ABBEVILLE - The state of Louisiana spent $13 million building this park on the Vermillion River south of Abbeville. There are cabins and nice piers where you can fish. However the park may never open without another $1.3 million, money which is currently not in the state’s budget.

Abbeville resident Elaine Dill said Monday during an open house at the park, “I cannot believe this beautiful place might be here with nobody to see it.”

More than 600 vehicles entered the park Monday during the one-day open house.

When the governor’s office released its new executive budget through the Division of Administration, it did not contain the necessary funding to open the new park.

State Park officials are working with the administration to try and find funding in the budget, but have thus far been unsuccessful. Most of the money needed is to pay for the employees to run the park and to purchase grounds keeping equipment.

State Sen. Troy Hebert of Iberia Parish sponsored a bill directing the Office of State Parks to find a partner to get Palmetto Island State Park opened. There are also talks in the works to try and find some private funding to help open the park.

The park includes six cabins, ninety-five RV campground spots, a water playground, trails, three lakes, a canoe trail, canoe launch, and a boat launch. Its location is close enough to Abbeville that city residents and residents of nearby areas would be able to camp on the weekends and be ready to return to work on Monday.

The park has had a somewhat tumultous history. It was originally created thanks to a proposal by John T. Landry of Abbeville when then-Governnor Edwards appointed him to the State Parks Commisson in 1972. In the early seventies there were few state parks in South Louisiana, so Landry proposed the parks creation at his very first Commisson meeting.

A few years later, he purchased land on the Vermilion River and the state bought it. Before the official construction could begin the project ran out of funding as no funds had been appropriated for the it.

In 2005 the park was almost ready to open when Hurricane Rita came through and destroyed parts of it. In 2008 Hurricane Ike caused more damage which prevented the park’s scheduled opening.

Visitors to the park on Monday were asked to sign a letter to the Gov. Bobby Jindal asking that he reconsider the decision not to open the park.

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