American Planning Association (APA) Community Planning Assistance Program
On April 10, Jacob Riger participated in the Community Planning Assistance Program as part of the APA’s 2010 National Conference in New Orleans. The purpose of the volunteer program is to provide planning assistance and national expertise to communities lacking local planning resources in the form of one day, on-site work in conjunction with the annual conference.
This year’s program was held in Donaldsonville, the seat of Ascension Parish. Charlier Associates is part of a multi-disciplinary team led by Winston Associates preparing the Ascension Parish Master Plan. The APA community planning workshop was a separate effort to provide planning assistance directly to Donaldsonville to address city-specific issues, and was facilitated by Louisiana Recovery Authority staff.
Ascension Parish, located between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, is one of the fastest-growing Parishes in Louisiana. Yet Donaldsonville, a beautiful and historic community isolated on the West Bank from the rest of the Parish, is losing population and struggles with higher crime and poverty, and lower investment, than East Bank communities. The city does have the second-largest historic district in the state, important riverfront and industrial assets, and a history of pioneering racial and religious integration.
Jacob and the rest of the APA community planning team conducted a driving and walking tour of Donaldsonville before participating with local residents, staff, elected officials, kids, business owners, and other community stakeholders in small group sessions addressing housing needs, infrastructure funding/development, and perception/image. This unique format led to a comprehensive and honest exchange of ideas, challenges, and opportunities. APA will produce a report capturing the discussions and providing clear action steps and direction to help the community move forward and maintain momentum from this event.
APA Community Planning Assistance Program: http://www.planning.org/communityassistance/index.htm
City of Donaldsonville: http://www.cityofdonaldsonville.net/
Louisiana Recovery Authority: http://www.lra.louisiana.gov/
Ascension Parish Master Plan: http://www.planascension.org/Home.html
Winston Associates: http://www.winstonassociates.com/Home.html