State to build RV park in Longfellow-Evangeline

The Office of State Parks has reversed a long-held position against an RV park in the Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site in St. Martinville and is in the process of drawing up plans, city fathers revealed Monday, May 5.

Mayor Thomas Nelson credited intervention in the matter by state Rep. Fred Mills Jr. and by Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu, who got an earful about St. Martinville’s tourism woes during a visit in October.

Councilman Mike Fuselier, who was in on recent meetings with state officials, said they were receptive to the city’s contention that the wooded area along the bayou inside the boundaries of the “state park” would make a far better location for RV campers than the old Talley Construction Co. headquarters, which has been the city’s fall-back site.

Not only were the state officials now willing to open the area to RVs — a position the same officials have been adamantly against for over a decade — the state is now willing to build and run the park itself.

“To which we said hallelujah!” Fuselier said.

“We get the park built for nothing — it’s a great, great thing,” said Nelson, who has suggested building a small auditorium for music and other events at on the Talley property near the bridge.

“I have to give the lieutenant governor a lot of credit,” Nelson said.

While the city would not gain any direct revenue from a state-run RV park, the benefit to its merchants would amount to a “bonanza,” said Fuselier.

“It’s not an over-estimate that an RV park is worth about $100 per person per day spent in the community,” he said.

Nelson said an RV park would be a long-awaited answer to the prayers of local restaurateurs, particularly.

“I don’t believe we’ll see a hotel anytime soon,” Nelson said.

Fuselier acknowledged that high fuel prices might curtail some RV travel, but he said he believes St. Martinville would still draw its share.

“We might not get them from Maryland and Washington State, but they’ll come from Lake Charles and Alexandria,” he said.

The park will be built to the latest state standards, meaning drive-through pads able to accommodate the largest of motor homes, Nelson said.

Lt. Gov. Landrieu came to St. Martinville on a pre-election swing through the state last fall.

The office of the lieutenant governor oversees the state Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, which contains the Office of State Parks.

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