Representatives from Brogal LP sent a new lease contract to the Franklin Parish Police Jury that could potentially close Baker’s Cutoff Boat Ramp from Nov. 1 through Jan. 31.
The lease will be discussed and possibly voted on at the Police Jury’s regular meeting, April 8.
The new lease is similar to the previous one presented to the Police Jury August 2020.
“There are some people that are going to be mad at the closure of the ramp,” said Road Superintendent Wendell Thornton. “I’ve had phone calls about it, and people wanted me to come out there.”
Police Jury members invited the public to attend the April 8 meeting.
“The people up there do the fishing, and they need to come to the meeting to explain what they want to do,” said Police Jury member David DeBlieux
In the new lease, the Police Jury would not have to pay rent for five years but would have to “improve the property with a gated fence at its own expense,” according to the contract.
The Police Jury would be responsible for maintenance and upkeep of the premises and agree to provide “sufficient gravel” at the landing, according to the contract. The Police Jury would also pay for a $2 million liability insurance policy.
Baker’s Cutoff Boat Ramp is the only access to the oxbow lake that was created when Corp of Engineers built a drainage structure from Bayou Macon.
Recently, a $415,000 Capital Outlay project to improve the lake was completed. The rehabilitation called for replacing culverts and slide gate and building a walkway from the levee to inlet.
Need for the project came after Hurricanes Gustav and Ike.
Due to high water flows during and after the storms, joints in two 72-inch drainage pipes, separated and allowed water to enter the pipes, pulling fill material inside and up-rooting trees.
In the past, the Police Jury annually leased the property surrounding the boat ramp from Bogal, LP for $1,000. The previous lease ended March 31, 2019.
The move to temporarily bar ramp users began when members of Brogal, LP accused hunters of trespassing on their private property and excessively littering. Officials representing the group requested the Police Jury close the ramp and Bakers Cutoff Road to the public for the specified period. Police Jury members dismissed closing the road in their regular June meeting.
According to the original proposal to the Police Jury, “There has always been a trash problem in the boat ramp area as well as people camping overnight in the area. Adjoining landowners as well as Brogal, LP have had continuous problems with hunters trespassing on their private property. The trespassers access the property by boats launched at the Bakers Cutoff Boat Ramp. They pose as fishermen and do fish but have a gun in case they see a deer on the banks of the lake. This has been an ongoing problem for years.”
The Police Jury originally leased the tract of land where the boat ramp is located on May 20, 2010 and renewed the lease on March 31, 2015 for an annual payment of $1,000, according to the proposal.
In June 2020, Police Jury members tabled a previous Brogal LP contract that called for the Vicksburg company to share fencing costs.
“All I know to do is put it on the agenda and have the public come to the meeting,” said Police Jury member Ricky Campbell.