NEW ORLEANS (October 11, 2007) - The Louisiana Recovery Authority's (LRA) Board of Directors today endorsed ten Louisiana Speaks priorities for the next year at its October meeting in New Orleans, including establishing a state office of planning and funding and building transportation infrastructure critical to Louisiana's recovery.
The Louisiana Speaks Regional Plan for South Louisiana, which the LRA board adopted at its May 2007 meeting, details more than 100 action items to support the plan's three broad goals of recovering sustainably, growing smarter and thinking regionally.
"We have much work before us, but this endorsement sets a clear course for our long-term planning efforts in the coming year," said Donna Fraiche, chair of the LRA's Long Term Community Planning Task Force. "Setting priorities for Louisiana Speaks is where the rubber meets the road in terms of implementation and our plans become reality. Our recovery over the next generation depends on this process moving immediately forward. We must avoid missteps by getting this right while we have the opportunity."
Louisiana Speaks is a long-term planning initiative of the LRA which was created in the wake of the destruction caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Spanning parishes from the Texas to Mississippi border (including the Houma/Thibodaux, New Orleans, North Shore, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Lake Charles, St. Bernard and Plaquemines areas), the Louisiana Speaks Regional Plan provides a broad strategic framework and priorities for land use, transportation, community growth and economic development in South Louisiana.
The Louisiana Speaks team has already taken action on key elements of the regional vision by working to coordinate the implementation of the regional plan with the state's coastal protection and restoration plans and supporting Local Recovery Plans.
In addition, many of the Louisiana Speaks priorities are already in place. The Louisiana Speaks leadership established a separate, nonprofit group to support this initiative. The Louisiana Legislature established the study group to recommend how Louisiana will create a statewide planning office consistent with the Louisiana Speaks Regional Vision.
"After months of planning, it is exciting to see recommendations of the plan taking shape," said Sean Reilly, chair of the LRA's State and Local Legislative Task Force. "Establishing a separate leadership organization and a state office of planning will ensure that the voices of thousands of citizens that formed Louisiana Speaks will continue to influence the state's future."
Critical transportation projects detailed in the Louisiana Speaks Regional Plan include regional transit projects that offer a high recovery and evacuation value while also providing economic development potential, such as a commuter rail that travels between New Orleans and Baton Rouge and the expansion of several highways.
The Plan also calls for the creation of model development code that would serve as a body of zoning and development principles. The Center for Planning Excellence (CPEX) and Louisiana Economic Development (LED) are developing this free resource which will be made available in late 2008.
In addition, the LRA works with the Louisiana Land Trust, formerly called the Road Home Corporation, to establish policies consistent with the Louisiana Speaks' priorities for community rebuilding and risk management to ensure the safer, stronger, smarter development of properties the Louisiana Land Trust acquires.
The Plan incorporates the 2008 priorities for the establishment of a state coastal land trust. The Louisiana Legislature directed the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to study this issue. Private resources exist for this coastal land trust and an additional effort to establish a separate Conservation and Mitigation Trust Fund is still needed.
The 2008 priorities also call for locating schools and medical facilities to improve neighborhoods and spur development, which the state is working to address through $41.5 million in funds appropriated for neighborhood primary health care clinics in the affected areas, coupled with $100 million in federal funds targeted for community clinics for the hardest-hit parishes. In addition, the Recovery School District (RSD) is working on its master plan of where to locate schools.
More than 27,000 Louisianans expressed their visions for recovery and rebuilding through the Louisiana Speaks process, constituting the foundation and validation for the plan, making Louisiana Speaks the most robust survey of its kind in American history.
The ten priorities the LRA board endorsed Thursday include:1. Establish an Office of State Planning and an Independent Louisiana Speaks Leadership Group.2. Fund and build recovery-critical transportation infrastructure.3. Create a Louisiana Location Index.4. Create model development and zoning codes.5. Use the Louisiana Speaks Regional Plan to guide the Louisiana Land Trust, formerly known as the Road Home Corporation.6. Focus public investment into developed areas and centers and identify and clear obstacles to infill development.7. Establish a state trust fund to revitalize communities.8. Establish a state trust fund to acquire high-risk or environmentally sensitive land.9. Locate and design schools and medical facilities to create better neighborhoods and spur community development.10. Build greener.
Visit www.louisianaspeaks.org/priorities2008.html for more information about the Louisiana Speaks 2008 priorities.