Although Pontchartrain Beach has been closed for several decades, locals still enjoy going to the mile-long sand beach close to the Seabrook Bridge. The Lakefront Management Authority, the current management company of the beach, is seeking bids from companies that would manage the property. They want to find someone who will make the beach safer for swimmers, anglers, and other outdoor patrons.
“What we’re doing now is testing the waters to see what proposals will come in, and what ideas are out there to develop this old beach site,” authority Executive Director Louis Capo said.
Pontchartrain Beach was established by the Batt family in 1928 and was originally an amusement park. The amusement park was moved to another location in 1983 and the beach became a swimming hazard. Residents need not worry that anything will be built at the beach.
“Now, it’s not under lease anywhere. But state law requires it can only be used for a beach. You couldn’t put a business there,” LMA board member Wilma Heaton said.
The Pontchartrain Beach Foundation would like to lease the beach. The foundation, founded by Guy Williams, the CEO of Gulf Coast Bank & Trust, says his group wants sot clean the beach up and reopen it for swimming, kayaking and other water activities.
“There just aren’t many options in our area to get out on the water for free,” Williams said.
“Our focus would be on step one, which is actually getting funding and the renovation that’s needed so that the beach can be reopened,” Williams said. “If we don’t do step one, there will never be a step two.”
For whoever ends up winning the bid, the job will be quite a task. There is a lot to do to make the beach area safe for the public. There are still old amusement park structures buried in the beach sand that can cut patrons. The steep drop-off and riprap (a rock material used for shorelines) are unsafe for those swimming underwater.
“We have one responsibility of overseeing the properties within our realms on behalf of the public,” Anthony Richard, its chairman said. “We’re trying to get an appreciation on what would be the best use for that particular space that’s available that ties into our mission.”