Riverbank renovation will be a game changer for Natchitoches

By Corey Poole

The master plans for the Rue Beauport Riverfront Project were unveiled at a press conference June 6 at the Events Center held by the City and the Cane River Waterway Commission.

“This is going to be a game changer for the downtown riverbank,” said Mayor Lee Posey.

The City will begin work to relocate a sewer line that runs down the middle of the riverbank July 4-11. This line needs to be moved anyway as the City looks ahead to the future downtown bridge construction project.

Bidding for the Rue Beauport Project will begin Oct. 1 and construction will start Jan. 1. It is scheduled as a 10-month project. At $3 million, the CRWC is funding the majority of the project. Chairman Jim Rhodes said the Waterway Commission feels this project will change the dynamics of the whole riverbank as it will become more used.

“We just want to make sure the Cane River is everything it can be,” he said. “We knew we needed to be a part of this.”

Other aspects of the project include:

  • Additional restrooms on the lower south end of the riverbank, which will replicate the Roque House architecture.
  • Prominent display of the Santa Clause house to promote year-round use
  • Removal of all steep stairs along the riverbank
  • Construction of ADA compliant ramp at north end of riverbank
  • Construction of staggered staircase at south end of riverbank
  • A reconfigured stage area (40×60 foot with 20 feet built out over the Cane River) with a canopy consistent with the Roque House’s wood shake roof
  • 12-foot wide promenade with lighting and benches along the existing retaining wall of the river consistent with Front Street’s benches and hanging baskets
  • An amphitheater across from the stage (will provide seating for 1,200-1,500 people in combination with the promenade) with brick terrace walls built into the slope of the riverbank, which will provide seating and feature step lights
  • Reinforced grass area between stage and amphitheater
  • Planting of additional oak trees and landscaping of the slopes between Front Street and the parking areas to stabilize the existing erosion problems

Motorists will still be able to drive through and park along the riverbank. Temporary bollards will be used to section off the reinforced grass area from the traffic for special events.

There are still details that need to be worked out, which includes railings over the promenade section that surrounds the stage. The rest of the promenade will feature a safety curb so the view of Cane River remains unobstructed.

“It’s all about the water,” said Carbo.

Another small detail that has yet to be determined is the relocation of some of the transformer boxes on the hillside along the riverbank. The stage will offer visitors a pavilion area with the possibility of movable furniture so they can rest and feel like they’re on the water. The stage will also facilitate a sound booth setup for concerts with permanent lighting and a metal truss system for additional lighting that can be moved up or down.

The biggest concern seemed to be what the vast amount of events that use the riverbank will do while the construction is underway. Carbo said they are working on an accelerated schedule and his gut tells him its optimistic that they’ll finish on schedule. He anticipates the construction will be implemented in a staggered way to retain access to the riverbank for residents and visitors. At some point the whole riverbank will need to be closed, but it won’t be for the entire duration of the project.

Jeffrey Carbo of CARBO Landscape Architecture said the vision for this project began over 20 years ago when the City first commissioned his firm for a master plan envisioning what the riverbank could be.

“I want to commend the City and the Cane River Waterway Commission for three words that most people don’t think about: Quality of Life,” he said.


45 thoughts on “Riverbank renovation will be a game changer for Natchitoches

  1. Cane River Waterway provided much of the funding for this project. This did not take a red cent away from roads. Now if you want to debate all the tax dollars we spend on quality of life services like the CRWC, library, Ambulance tax, Red River Waterway, Natchitoches Port ,Boys and Girls Club Council on Aging and a few others then let’s have that one.

  2. Did anybody commenting here actually read the article; about the accesses and trough traffic, parking and revenue sources? The streets and roads are not in the same revenue plan. This project is entirely separate from city and parish funding. Removing those steep stairs and replacing the access with safer means to the riverbank is the whole concept. OMG. Naysayers everywhere? What do you people do everyday if you don’t have something to complain about?

  3. Also – if you have something to say, CALL City Hall or your councilman. Don’t just post it here and expect anyone to listen to you. If you want to praise or complain about this plan, let them know.

    • Waste of time,decisions have already been made. Without any kind of forum to the general public.

  4. God we live in a city fully of cry babies. You whining idiots are why nothing ever happens in this town. Shut up about the roads. If you choose to live down a 20 mile dirt road in the middle of nowhere, that is your problem.

    • I don’t like down a 20 mile dirt road.. my road is used frequently by people diverting traffic in the city. By the way, those in rural areas pay taxes too!! They deserve decent roads! This renovation is a waste of taxpayer dollars. Why will this increase revenue when nobody wants to come here due to the devestation tho their vechicles.

  5. all this city has and ever will care about is there precious “Front Street “,this
    city doesn’t care one bit about growing or fixing roads,it will always be about there money maker Front Street.Why not fix the roads try to bring in new business ? South drive looks like a war zone,you have to dodge pot holes constantly to save your tires or front end.I think the Mayor just wants his name on new stuff,just step up and fix whats already broken .

  6. Matt –
    I feel the money for this would be better spent on road repair,other than re doing the river bank.The Christmas festival is already a huge money maker for the city and I am sure if this new river bank gets done,it will increase the cost of going to the Christmas festival.

  7. Approved by the historical committee? This is historically accurate? Who is paying for this work? Will you still be able to drive your cars all the way through? The fact the City of Lights Christmas displays? Why not replace the stairs would say for stairs that have a better ways to prevent people from falling and install at least one round on one end of the River Bank? Why are we spending money on something that’s not broken rather than fixing things like a broken torn down the road?

  8. I am with the road folks–can’t drive on these so called roads in Natch. parish as a whole but keep spending money on front street–Hate to go to Walmart because of traffic but again they forced wally world across the river so traffic would have to come to town with old bridge about to fall in cane river–who keeps voting for these idiots–

  9. Think this is great! Thank God it won’t match the historic “Fred Flintstone* house they call the Sports Museum. Soo totally out of place for Historic Natchitoches.

    • “Fred Flintstone” house … pretty good. Reminds me more of “Ape City” from the original “Planet of the Apes” movie….

    • So very true….. I don’t know who the designer and architect was for that Sports Museum but it’s certainly doesn’t go with historic Natchitoches

  10. It looks to me that you will not be able to drive all the way through anymore if they put the grassy area in front of the stage to the amphitheater. I don’t know about any of you but I enjoy riding down through the river bank sometimes especially during the time they put up the Christmas lights along the river bank.

  11. Is this historical accurate?
    Will you still be able to drive all the way through?
    did the historical members approve this?

  12. OK make a ramp but do you really got to change all that . For some that live in that area can’t even make changes to their houses do to it being historical. If you do this it changes everything about the look and feel it gives now . It is the history of this town it has looked the way it is for the 30 years ive been alive here ..i vote .No Changes ……Maybe they should sink that 3 million into the road ways in this town insted of changing something that has no problems ….I think the people in the town should get to vote where major changes such as this is made .

  13. I wish they wouldn’t do away will all the steep steps though- they really helps with traffic both during the festivals.The multiple sidewalks provide easy access up and down the bank, rather than having to walk all the way to the end. Imagine all the Christmas Festival foot traffic now being bottled to either end, rather than being able to flow to the nearest staircase. I think they should keep both steep stairs that are next to the bridge, mainly because as a runner, I enjoy running along the upper bank, but being able to avoid vehicle traffic by heading down the stairs and then right back up. Keeping two steep stairs in such a critical location will ease pedestrian traffic, but also not interfere with the new additions.

      • I think the improvements will be great and have been well thought out. There are always those who will disagree but this will bring so much more of a professional attractiveness for events and a much needed comfort level and adequate seating. Especially for the elderly and disabled. The stairs have been very dangerous for years and are a liability and are an eyesore and need to be replaced. The changes are tasteful and the integrity and historical elegance will still be intact and preserved. The revenue brought in from the changes just might help supply some of the needed funding for some of the complaints that have been raised when the attractiveness, standards and conveniences are implemented.

  14. Excellent article, very informative. But, the only game-changing I foresee is higher taxes and expenses. Our taxes are already too high, our utility “surcharges” are already too high (but very poor quality). There are plenty of other things that need “revitalizing” first. The roads are atrocious, then there’s the matter of the $500 we’re each going to have to pay to prevent water backflow. Sorry, but I’m sick to death of being charged such exorbitant amounts of money so tourists can enjoy themselves, and so businesses downtown can profit. (While businesses elsewhere in town suffer, but still have to pay…). The Overlords of Natchitoches need to pull their heads down out of the clouds.

  15. 3 mill. And there’s no money to pay for river patrol,weed control , preservation or conservation on the Cane itself. The CRWC is going to pay the majority of the bill for less then half mile of Riverbank. And the rest of the lake is on it’s own. CRWC should be ashamed. And when you powers that be decided to spend a little time on the Cane and you come to a point where moss is completely across the river,and you get a foot of water in your boat or worse because the boats are to big and not following the rules of the lake you can go back and enjoy it from the stage .Really disappointed in the CRWC.

  16. There are still neighborhoods in Natchitoches lacking sidewalks.. Front st is beautiful but as soon as you go back a little further 5th and 6th st are in ruins! You cant drive down south drive without being concerned about your tires

  17. I love the new plan! It makes the riverbank more accessible to a greater population who can now enjoy the Cane River events. I’m excited about this and totally support this wonderful vision.

  18. This town never ceases to amaze me… Our roads are crumbling beneath our cars and trucks and the focus is on redoing the riverbank. Guess what, you can now kiss any hope you had of me supporting a new road tax goodbye and will do everything in my power to get others to do the same. Its time the residents of this town wake up. You can have all this multi million dollar stuff around but people wont come if they can’t get to it because of the roads.Our leaders need to figure out that problem or be replaced with ones that will!!!!!!!

    • I am with you John.I also believe this money would be better spent on roads around the parrish and city,you can hardly drive anywhere in this city without hitting or dodging a pot hole.This city already makes a ton of money off festivals and its beloved front street,start putting money into road work.

  19. How smart is this during the 4th of July event ? Will the event be cancelled ? Don’t look like front street and the riverbank will be the quaint little town it was !

      • One may be disabled, but still mobile. So I could see the concern of as you state, “God forbid you walk down to one end if that be the case.” Not everyone is able bodied! Think before your think you sarcasm is cute.

      • Not everyone is able bodied? I think it would be a lot easier to walk (or whatever it is you do being disabled) over to the ramp instead of going down those steep steps. But then again, statistically you’re severely overweight and 45-65 years old. So have fun either way.

      • Some people can’t walk that far to attend things on the river bank. It’s all some can do to walk to the riverbank from a parking spot on a side street. You do need to think of people who have medical issues and can’t walk long distances, or should those people just stay home. Just sayin’

      • Ted, they could change the steep staircase to one easier to go up and down, rather than remove them all together. You know there are happy mediums in situations such as this.

      • It’s not about able-bodied at times, it’s about access. Sometimes you do not have the extra minutes it takes to walk all the way down to the end – especially if you have cranky children in tow – just to pick up a little fruit from the Green Market. I applaud the efforts of the city to improve access to those who need the ramps so they no longer have to dodge traffic to get below. That is wonderful. BUT I would also like to be able to get down the riverfront at more than just either end.
        Also – do you want to have just a few points of egress at Christmas Festival? Don’t you want to clear the area after the fireworks? God forbid there is in incident and people are trying to leave quickly…

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