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  • April Bellow

A Transforming Coastal Hub

When owner-entrepreneurs, Cheri and Monty Montelongo, decided to “go all in” on their dreams of creating an educational, coastal hub out of the former “Parish Marina”, they couldn’t have imagined what the future would bring.  Friends, family members and neighbors all rallied around their vision to help transform a space that had seen far better times. An industrial frontage with a bar above, the space looked quite different just before 2020. Investing in both cosmetic and structural improvements, transforming The Wharf on Bienvenue into a coastal hub has been an ongoing work in progress since they began enacting their plans. The hard work began before the world-wide shutdown and so it goes, pivots took place.



Monty Montelongo showing a child a small, baby american alligator in 2021, when the venue was still called The Parish Marina
Co-Owner, Monty Montelongo, showing kids a baby alligator (Aug 2021)

The Montelongo Family standing and smiling with a camera man and newscaster in front of a pontoon boat
The Montelongo Family in front of the St. Bernard EcoTourism pontoon boat













 Last year, owner-operator, Jeff Chitek, of New Orleans Pedal Barge approached the Montelongos in search of a marina with full accommodations for his growing business. It  seemed like a natural fit. Since September of 2022, New Orleans Pedal Barge also known as NOLA Booze Cruise, has welcomed thousands of guests from around the world to party on the Bayou. While the missions of these businesses differ, they compliment the other and allow room to grow.


 St. Bernard Eco-Tourism is still at the forefront of the Montelongo’s mind and very much still a part of what makes the Wharf on Bienvenue what it is. It is a multi-faceted space that welcomes all wetland lovers onto the water that transforms with the tide and time. Rounding out the team of eco-tour guides and coastal enthusiasts has been an ongoing transformation which will carry the mission far into the future. In 2023, SBET found itself gaining key team members, a website and logo re-brand, dozens of students visiting the grounds for field trips, and budding partnerships.

 

A flatbed truck with large bags of glass (recycled and crushed by Glass Half Full) is unloaded by heavy machinery
A truckload of large bags of glass gravel from Glass Half Full being delieved

 An amazing and newly emerging partnership with Glass Half Full will transform physical spaces and help amplify the importance of recycling glass and environmental stewardship. A generous donation of glass gravel will help soften and draw light into pathways while educating guests on this multi-purpose aggregate.



Stay tuned for the exciting transformations to come as we grow with the seasons of change!





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