Future of city being mapped

Published 9:23 am Friday, June 20, 2014

A renewed and vibrant Bogalusa was the focus of a meeting Tuesday evening at the Senior Center, where approximately 30 citizens showed up to hear a presentation from Dana Brown of Dana Brown & Associates of New Orleans.

Tuesday’s was the third public meeting on the topic.

“Our vision for the future of Bogalusa is to become a stronger community of revitalized neighborhoods with walkable streets and scenic green spaces that provides for all of its residents, business owners and visitors a meaningful living environment and an opportunity to connect with their neighbors and nature,” Brown said in her vision statement.

To do the study, the City of Bogalusa received a resiliency-planning grant from the Louisiana Office of Community Development.

“There are ideas of planning for a city to be resilient in many ways,” Brown said. “For the city to bounce back after something goes wrong is the main idea. It could mean working on the main infrastructure or resolving a social hazard or bad economy. In an economic downturn, resiliency is trying to diversify your economy to retain and maintain jobs.”

A major topic was the beautification of South Columbia Street and Avenue F.

“In a town like this, you should be able to walk on sidewalks everywhere. That is a priority. You want to attract businesses on South Columbia Street like boutiques. On Avenue F, you want to create bike lanes to attract young people.”

Brown said city officials might want to consider parallel parking in certain business areas.

“You don’t want traffic on South Columbia Street and Avenue F to fly through,” Brown said. “You want people to stop and spend a few bucks.”

Brown said catalyst projects are major undertakings intended to create quick growth.

“Catalyst projects are projects that enhance the branding of Bogalusa as well as create capital improvement projects such as South Columbia Street and the Heritage Trail,” Brown said. “Here, there is no way to market and package it.”

Brown talked about establishing neighborhood gardens in certain area of the city, including the Richardsontown neighborhood. An earlier poll put to residents had 69 percent of the respondents voting for an urban agriculture area.

“That area has a large area of land that is vacant,” Brown said.

Brown also suggested new signs to the main entrance of the city, along with enhanced lighting and trees along Willis Avenue near the high school baseball field. She said city officials also should enforce the blight ordinance. She suggested solar energy farming in certain neighborhoods could also be implemented.

City officials who attended the meeting included Mayor Charles Mizell, Director of Administration Jerry Baily, Director of Public Works James Hall, Personnel Director Sandy Bloom, councilmen Michael Oree and Teddy Drummond, councilwoman Oneita Graham and Bogalusa School Board member Curtis Creel.