State purchases land to build new community to combat coastal erosion
The state has completed the purchase of a 515-acre tract of land to resettle the residents Isle De Jean Charles community who will lose their homes on an island that will one day be covered by the Gulf of Mexico. The 11.7 million dollar purchase of 515 acres of farmland in the Schriever area is the first step in relocation.
State Office of Community Development executive director Pat Forbes says they hope to start construction on the new community later this year.
"We are working through the process, we got our environmental reviews done, which were necessary before we could actually close on the property, we've done that now. We have our preliminary master plan," said Forbes.
The island in south Terrebonne Parish has lost 98% of its landmass since 1955 and is at major risk of flooding. While the new site is in development, Forbes says inhabitants of the island have been offered rental assistance to find interim housing.
"We've got almost 20 families who have decided to take the rental assistance and live off the island, while we get the project done," said Forbes.
Forbes says the planning and construction of the homes and community will emphasize and maintain the unique culture created by the mostly Native American inhabitants of the quickly disappearing island.
"We know that it's got to be an economically viable community, it's got to be safe for them and it's got to be affordable for them. There will be commercial development on the highway frontage."
The site was selected after an extensive search and environmental impact study and was overwhelmingly supported by its future residents. The initiative is being funded by the feds in a first of its kind re-location project.