On Sunday, February 25, The Garden District Civic Association (GDCA) held its annual meeting at Leola’s, with nearly 40 in attendance. Speakers, including GDCA President Justin Kozak, Councilwoman Carolyn Coleman, Public Service Commissioner Davante Lewis, BREC, and CSRS, primarily focused on the neighborhood’s notorious flooding, the potential rezoning of Barracuda Taco Stand, and an update on the University Lakes Project.
Helmed by board member Hance Hughes, the Stop the GD Flooding campaign has had significant momentum in its genesis, having already met with the City of Baton Rouge (City) and initiated a study of our water lines. CES trucks have started running cameras in lines at Park and Tulip and will unclog if necessary. The City plans to survey the lines on Cherokee and Tulip to identify the root cause. “While it’s disheartening that much of our community continues to experience devastation, I’m encouraged that the City has moved swifter than expected,” Hughes said. “We remain vigilant and optimistic that we can come to a sustainable solution.” Everyone is encouraged to send photos of flooding – both past and (potentially) future – to the campaign’s Instagram account.
The concern about the rezoning proposal for the St. Rose lot behind Barracuda Taco Stand is directly connected to our flooding. Currently, the residential dirt lot is being used as unofficial parking for the new outdoor restaurant, and the City recommends rezoning it commercially for a parking lot. Barracuda owner Brett Jones has secured alternative options for parking elsewhere because he, in congruence with the GDCA, agrees that not only will a commercial concrete lot set a bad precedent for future businesses in our walkable community, it will exacerbate our flooding issues. The GDCA has presented an opposition letter to the City and plans to meet with its leaders soon.
Councilwoman Coleman has spoken with Fred Raiford, director of transportation for the City of Baton Rouge, about the neighborhood’s drainage issues and will provide updates following last month’s meeting. She also asked attendees to contact her office for help if they ever have problems with 311.
Commissioner Lewis previewed multiple updates coming to our inbox related to energy and water bills. We can expect a slight increase in our water bills to build up an emergency fund. Also, Entergy plans to add a $5.50 Disaster Ida fee to our accounts for the next 15 years. Finally, he shared that there are intentional efforts from his office to provide alternative energy sources to Entergy for the community.
Reed Richard of BREC and Mark Goodson of CSRS shared that Phase 1 of the University Lakes Project should begin in late Spring. Our neighborhood and adjoining areas can expect minimal delays once the project kicks off. BREC is partnering with the City to develop watersheds and a greenway from Dalrymple to Downtown Baton Rouge.
Water plants – The neighborhood sign at Park Boulevard/Government has been raised in height, and the soil improved. There will soon be new landscaping with native plants, and we need consistent support with its watering.
Maintain the alleys – Potholes, poor lighting, and overgrown vegetation are the biggest problems in the alley. We ask neighbors to assist with keeping it clean and cut back. Doing so helps with safety and utility services. You can read more about our alleyways and how we can keep them clean and safe.
Protect the live oaks – Kimberly Coffey and The Live Oak Love Collective have made beautiful gains in getting sections of Park Blvd cleaned up and beautified. We hope to improve the medians on Cherokee/Park and Kleinert/Terrace next, but we need neighbors to pitch in support.
Contact us at [email protected] to volunteer and learn more ways you can get involved in our community.