Melville residents outraged at closed boat launch

Photo: Jazmin Thibodeaux

Some residents in Melville are furious after their one and only way of reaching the Atchafalaya River was blocked off Tuesday.

Many in the community used the former ferry landing as a boat launch and some even relied on it to make a living.

Life-long resident Jerry Williams says no one was notified that this would be happening. “This is just a certain thing that just came on up.”

Williams and his wife, Cindy, frequently fished, and even swam in the river prior to this barricade. They still have equipment in the water. Both of them were shocked to see DOTD workers blocking their entry way to the Atchafalaya River. “This has always been a place where we come to get peace and quiet. I throw all my troubles in that water. That’s my closest thing to God,” says Williams.

DOTD Public Information Officer, Deidra Druilhet, says the area was a ferry landing that was closed in 2010. Druilhet says DOTD utilized the landing through a right of way agreement with Union Pacific. Once the landing was closed, the agreement was left in limbo. She says it was discovered residents were using the landing as a boat launch, and that’s when barriers were put up for liability reasons.

Richard Satterley (84) says local commercial fisherman will now take a big hit. “Best living I ever made and I worked construction work and I ran companies, but fishing was the best business I was ever in.”

Fisherman will have to travel at least 15 miles to either Krotz Springs or Simsport to launch their boats.

Williams says there’s not much left in the town. “After they took the ferry, the school left. After the school left, then we started losing the stores. We lost a bank. This is the only freedom people had and now they’re taking this,” said Williams. Williams, along with other residents, said they will contact their elected officials to find out if this barricade can be removed.

Druilhet says DOTD is working with Union Pacific to figure out a way to allow Melville Residents back in the water to retrieve their belongings.

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