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    Welcome to the Neighborhood!

    Did you know that the Garden District has a Welcome Committee?  New residents are greeted at their homes by a Garden District board member and presented with a welcome canvas bag featuring our neighborhood logo designed by a former Garden District resident containing a bottle of bubbly and a welcome letter from the GDCA president that welcomes new residents and encourages them to get involved with our civic association. Joining the Garden District Civic Association is so easy and benefits the new resident as well as our neighborhood.

    Anne Trapp, Welcome Committee Chair, says, “Being on the Board and greeting new neighbors has been enjoyable and fulfilling.  I am constantly reminded of the positive and unique neighborhood where we live.”

    If you’re new to the Garden District, we hope you look forward to many enjoyable years here, and we would love if you consider becoming a Garden District Civic Association member.

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    Claire PittmanWelcome to the Neighborhood!
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    October is Alley Month

    The Baton Rouge Department of Maintenance would like to put the Garden District alleys on a regular maintenance schedule. This first involves the residents along the alleys first removing any trash and debris from the alley as well as cutting back vegetation. The City will cut overhead tree limbs that hinder the passage of garbage trucks and emergency vehicles. Residents should move junk, trash and debris to the right-of-way, next to the street for Republic trucks to pick up. Remember not to put the pile under low hanging branches or too close to tree trunks. The Grabber won’t be able to get to it safely. Also, on Tuesday, don’t have a car parked in front of your pile. The truck won’t be able to reach it.

    During inspections of the alley, Mike Schexnayder, chair of the GDCA Alley Committee, and Mary Fontenot, GDCA Secretary, found that many alleys were overgrown. Some were wildly overgrown with invasive bamboo, while others had beautiful plants, but they narrowed the alley too much, making it difficult for trucks to maneuver. If we want Republic to use our alleys, we are going to have to make them wide enough and clear enough, so they can be traversed. We certainly want them cleared enough for fire engines. Hopefully one will not be needed.

    The Department of Maintenance is also planning to address drainage and surfaces, but that is a subject for another newsletter.

    Please plan on cleaning your alley some Saturday in October. Many blocks have Block Captains who will be contacting residents. Please help your block this October and keep your alley in good shape all year.


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    Claire PittmanOctober is Alley Month
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    September 2020 Drainage Update

    Drainage Problems in the Garden District

    Tom Douthat, who moved here in 2017, noticed the drainage problems in his first few months in the Garden District. Tom is an environmental planning and law professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences. His house at 50 ft over sea level, and not in a flood zone, was swamped, so he had incentive to look into the matter. The Garden District has localized depressions, which create smaller basins, such as Cherokee St. that fill up and flood houses and swamp cars. They drain in about thirty minutes, but this raises the question of why our drainage system is so unequipped to handle Louisiana’s predictably heavy rains, which will strengthen in the coming decades.

    Another neighbor, Hank Harper has long tried to inform the city about problems in the area near his Cherokee St. home. Mr. Harper has collected maps and inspected the area visually. To do this he had to use his skills as an engineer, and go to the Parish archives to find maps of the area, because the city has not managed an inventory of its stormwater infrastructure. Nobody knew exactly where water from the Garden District Drained, so the problem has persisted.

    In July, Tom and other neighbors had a meeting with the Mayor and Fred Raiford, Director of Drainage, who supplied the group with background and updates. They explained to the residents that recent developments under the Stormwater Masterplan have begun to collect data, but the parish still does not have a working model of the Garden District’s drainage.

    The meeting also clarified that there are several possible explanations for Garden District flooding. The first is that our water is supposed to drain into Dawson’s Creek and into the rivers, but there is more water in rivers than there used to be. It is possible that our water can’t get to Dawson’s Creek because it is backed up from all the downstream urban runoff. This could be a function of stronger rain events, or that downstream development that has increased impervious surface, so water rushes faster into the streams, causing flooding. The meeting also led to another possibility, which is that culverts under the Broussard St. and Hundred Oaks St. bridges have been working as dams. There are plans for fixing the culverts on Broussard and Hundred Oaks, but these plans are contingent on the parish obtaining Federal matching funds.

    Dawson Creek backups represent only one possible explanation. Another plausible explanation is that the pipes in the Garden District’s drainage system aren’t large enough. This should be an easy question to answer via a hydrological model, but the Parish lacks data on the drainage pipe networks (e.g., width and location). We know most areas north of Tulip drain to Government St, while areas south of Myrtle St. go via McGrath and other paths.

    As part of the Stormwater Masterplan, our neighborhood drain pipes (separate from the sewer pipes) should be mapped and classified.  If localized pipe capacity is an issue, there may be solutions diverting water more directly into the large pipes under Government St., or starting to plan for long needed upgrades to antiquated smaller-diameter pipes.

    The Mayor and Parish Transportation and Drainage Director have committed to hiring an engineer to study these issues in the Garden District, and explore alternatives. However, that person has not yet been contracted, and the GDCA will be following up on this in the next month.  This is a crucial step, because as long as the problem remains undefined, it will never be solved.




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    Claire PittmanSeptember 2020 Drainage Update
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    2020 U.S.. Census

    2020 U.S. Census

    The U.S. Government conducts a census every ten years as mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution. A new census will be conducted this year beginning April 1, 2020.  The 2020 Census counts the population in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories (Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Each home will be asked to respond to a questionnaire—online, by phone, or by mail. Households will be able to respond to the census online for the first time this year.

    In a New Year’s Day commentary, the Baton Rouge Advocate editorial staff state succinctly the reasons for the census and the importance of each household’s participation.  We have include a link to the editorial piece for your reading pleasure.

    Your Garden District Civic Association will be providing additional information regarding the census and the need for census takers in upcoming newsletters.

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    jcwproductions2020 U.S.. Census

    Powderpost Beetles

    The word “termites” can strike fear in a homeowner and for good reason.  The damage their voracious appetite can cause to wooden structures can be devastating. But did you know that the powderpost beetle can cause as much damage as those dreaded termites.  A Garden District resident recently discovered their subfloors had been infested with powderpost beetles and had to undertake an extensive repair job to floors and subfloors to eradicate the damage inflicted on their home. 

    We are providing information on this menace to give homeowners something to reference when discussing possible infestation with your exterminator and an idea of what to look for to spot the potential presence of the beetle.

    The following information regarding powderpost beetles is taken from the Terminix website.

    Powderpost” is the descriptive name given to several different species of wood-boring beetles that can infest homes. These insects lay their eggs in the pores of wood. Their larvae then hatch from the eggs, feeding on the wood and creating a series of tunnels as they go.

    Eventually, the larvae will mature into pupae and then adult beetles. Once the insects reach adulthood, they tunnel their way out of the wood, leaving behind a tiny exit hole. This life cycle can take two to five years to complete, meaning the larvae are literally eating the wood in your home for years.

    Like termites, some powderpost beetles will feed on hardwoods — such as oak, ash, walnut, bamboo and hickory — and softwoods like pine. As the frames from most homes are built from softwoods, certain species of powderpost beetles can cause structural damage to houses.

    Other species of powderpost beetles will only eat hardwood, but that doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. While you may not see structural damage from these species, it is possible to discover infestations in wood paneling, crown molding, window and door frames, plywood, hardwood floors or furniture.

    How Do I Know If I Have an Infestation?

    Short of actually laying eyes on a powderpost beetle, one of the only ways to know that you have a problem is to see the frass they leave behind. Frass is a mixture of powderpost beetle larvae excrement and miniscule wood particles that falls out of the exit holes the adult insects make as they emerge.

    Depending on the species of beetle, the frass can either be extremely fine — like flour or baby powder — or slightly gritty like cornmeal. The best way to determine whether the residue you find in your home is a result of powderpost beetle damage or the work of another insect is to arrange for an inspection by a trained pest control professional who will better be able to identify the culprit.

    How to Treat Powderpost Beetles

    There are DIY treatment methods that you can find online, but the effectiveness of these is hard to gauge, making them risky solutions. Because of this, it’s best to consider a professional pest control service provider.

    What Does Powderpost Beetle Treatment Cost?

    Fortunately, because treatments are customized to your situation, there’s not an exact number for how much treatment will cost. The final figure will depend on factors such as where in the country you live, the size of your home, location and extent of the activity. Additionally, it’s possible that repairs will be needed to address powderpost beetle damage, which can further increase the final price tag.

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    Claire PittmanPowderpost Beetles
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    2019 Champagne Stroll

    The Garden District Civic Association’s annual fall Champagne Stroll was held Sunday, October 27, under a perfect autumn sky.  The stroll offered chilled champagne and scrumptious eats at each host home, and live entertainment at our final stop. Four Chambongs, donated by GDCA board member and owner of Red Cake Events, Mrs. Heather Day, were raffled off at each stop of the stroll .  GDCA members as well as neighbors and friends from within and outside the neighborhood participated in the stroll.  We were elated to meet new residents of the Garden District who have recently relocated here from as far away as Boise, Idaho and Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Welcome to the neighborhood!!

    The homes featured by this year’s stroll highlighted various styles of architecture that make our Garden District neighborhood such a unique and sought after place to live.  Our first stop, a Greek revival-style home was hosted by owners Catherine and Jeff Russell who greeted strollers on their lovely front porch.  Sweet and savory hors d’oeuvres were generously provided by Robert Johnson and Rick Vallet. At our second stop, a mid-century modern ranch, homeowners Mindy and Luke Piontek, greeted strollers with champagne, appetizers and mini muffulettas provided by Cannetella’s Italian Grocery. The third stop was the quintessential, craftsman bungalow-style home of Beth Floyd and Steven Barker.  Is there anything more inviting than a bungalow’s front porch?  Beth and Steven welcomed strollers onto their comfortable front porch and offered tasty appetizers provided by Bet R Supermarket and Trader Joe’s.  We are very fortunate to have such generous local businesses here in Baton Rouge!  The final stop of the stroll was hosted by Flo and Bill Rodman at their Dutch Colonial-style home.  Participants gathered in the huge backyard for some of Bill’s scrumptious jambalaya, more champagne and world class entertainment provided by the duet of Carly Vicknair and partner.

    Once again, the annual champagne stroll was a huge success.  The GDCA would like to express our sincerest gratitude to our hosts Catherine and Jeff Russell, Mindy and Luke Piontek, Beth Floyd and Steven Barker and Flo and Bill Rodman.  Also a huge thank you to our local businesses who donated all the delicious foods including Robert Johnson and Rick Vallet, Cannetella’s Italian GroceryBet R Supermarket and Trader Joe’s.  And finally a huge thank you to Anne Trapp, our GDCA board member and organizer of this year’s stroll.  We appreciate all of your hard work to make this activity a success. 

    Social Media and marketing were provided by Eolas LLC.

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    Claire Pittman2019 Champagne Stroll
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