Last week's ABS meeting preceded two meetings later in the week, one with government officials and the other with a land trust board member down-state. Come to our meeting Monday night to hear what happened!
In attendance: Kathryn Brandl, John Gilliland, Carolyn Manning, Susan Keith, Feico Kempff, William Hartman, Maurice Loridans, Steph Pedro, Loren Demerath, Elizabeth Roselli
The group discussed the request from Parish Commissioner Matthew Linn for a map our group has made of recommended bike routes for the upcoming meeting he has invited us to on the bike-ped plan. It was noted we gave the map we made to NLCOG and that we haven’t heard since then about it. It was also noted that google maps is good now for bicycle routes.
It was hoped this meeting might be a catalyst for future work on making the city more bike-able. We’ll be meeting Dara Sanders, the person who’ll be in charge of implementing parts of the master plan. Caroline Majors Eckles knows Dana and she may be open to new ideas. (Later, Loren talked to Caroline, and invited her to attend the meeting as well, as an ABS member.)
Others are looking forward to it. Maurice, for example would like to offer opinions of bicycle infrastructure.
It was noted that we might begin at the meeting by saying there should be a master bike-ped plan, versus some ad hoc thing thrown together by a little group like ABS. Maurice could raise the issue of what is a master plan, and others can point out that it’s about more than cyclists but also about safety, quality of life, and economic development. The concern is that the city looks as it does because it has traditionally skipped planning and it will probably continue to skip it.
Apparently Jeff Everson said he though the city is not built conducively to add bike lanes, but the same argument has been used in other cities that now have them, and even was used against rail systems in Dallas and Houston where such systems are now operating successfully.
Steph thought it might take 5 more years of education, but that it will eventually happen.
We won’t go with a map partly because we don’t want to be hasty in setting routes and paths, we want it done right with real urban planning. If it’s not, eventually, we’ll do it ourselves.
Nature Conservancy Head, Glenn Prickett, asked why we don’t sponsor a bond and get people to fund the improvement through taxes. (Bonds come from the current millage out of the reserve.) Perhaps we should suggest to Matthew and Dana that we get a bond for the plan and its implementation. We would need to reach out to other parts of the community, though, to get the bond, but it’s do-able.
There is also potential for federal government funding: safe routes and transportation enhancement; CDC sponsors a program focused on health. 10 million dollar grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield for unique ideas for action.
Maurice described the grant from the Parish ABS had recieved. Steph applied for it and Matthew Linn arranged for us to receive it (half of what was requested, but more could be coming if we use it well and appropriately). The money is from the Parrish and to be used to secure property along the nature trail through a conservation easement. The funds have to be used to secure property. We’d responsible for covering ineligible expenses. It’s an amount we have to account for semi-annually.
We need to figure out who’s going to own the property. An easement can be in favor of the public. The public owns the easement, not the land. But someone ought to take responsibility to make sure development doesn’t occur. There’s already a sewer line that the city can maintain. A conservation easement has a definite meaning. What matters is who is going to be the party. If we can flex the concept of conservation easement enough to include an urban greenway.
Could be Southeast Louisiana Land Trust, or it could be Centenary. The easement is the basis for stopping development. SPAR or the Parish could administer the easement; the repository of the rights. Owners might like to donate easement rights of their lands and then they wouldn’t have to pay taxes on it.
There is no land trust here in this area, but there is the Southeastern Louisiana Land Trust in Hammond. Bonnie Lewis is a Sociologist at Southeastern Louisiana University who has served on that board.
Come to the meeting Monday night to find about what Loren, Steph, and Feico learned in their conference call with Bonnie later in the week! Dr. Lewis helped us understand the details of operating a land trust and how it has worked for them.
Also, hear about the meeting Kathryn, Maurice, John, William and Caroline had with Matthew Linn and Dara Sanders!
Lastly, all are invited to give feedback on the newsletter draft written by ABS intern Elizabeth Rosselli.