Community members engage in future plans
Last Thursday evening, Donaldsonville’s Downtown Development District (DDD) held its wrap-up session to discuss the mission and future plans for the city.
DDD Executive Director Lee E. Melancon, III, presented an overview of the plans to a crowd of approximately 25 people, which included residents and officials. The presentation was a collection of information from the five previous meetings.
“What is important about this process is what we may do is up to the city,” Melancon said. “The reason we had the town hall meetings and this meeting is to continue on to find out who we are and what we want to do.
Economical revitalization does not happen with a commission, a person, a mayor or city council. In order for it to sustain, every single resident of the city has to be involve.”
Economic impact is a financial effect that has on a situation or person. That means the project is not about the water lines, cities nor streets. It’s mainly about how the city can generate economic impact to pay for those gas, water and sewer lines.
“This is not a master plan and it has nothing to do with infrastructure,” Melancon said. “This is an economic impact plan.”
Melancon said that residents who have been living in the city for more than 20 years most likely believe there aren’t opportunities or room for improvements.
“You have to be a visitor to be able to see things.” he said. “Take a look at Donaldsonville’s trip advisor score and read the tourist reviews who visited from different states and countries.”
Barbara Chatman, who was born and raised in Donaldsonville relocated to Los Angeles, Calif. after graduating from high school. She graduated from college and all of her adult work was done in that same state. She said she has been back in Louisiana for one-year-and-a half.
"I want to see the city build," Chatman said. “There should be more social and jazz clubs where I can spend money and enjoy myself. I want see more restaurants since Louisiana is known for its great food.”
Melancon said that Donaldsonville has establish a collaboration with over 30 businesses who are working together to make the project a success. Some of the businesses are City of Donaldsonville Leadership, Donaldsonville Historic District Commission, River Road African American Museum, Ascension Parish Library and United Way among others.
There are millions of dollars of new projects that has been happening in the city. Citizens may not see it but it’s going on. Crescent Park and the Lemann Center have been in restoration. The River Trail is also being extended, and there is a Taco Bell restaurant being built in between Wal-Mart and Donaldsonville Elementary School.
The old Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) building that sits behind City Hall will soon be in restoration. The Louisiana Historic Trust for Preservation has accepted the DMV building for the restoration project, with city support. Contracts have been signed with contractors and within the next month, the project will be getting started.
Two weeks ago, The Hambrick Family was awarded most successful restoration in Louisiana. They put their private money into saving the Netter Building. The Netter Building is now a hotel with sixteen rooms and a lounge.