LIVINGSTON - Gerald Burns was a member of the original Master Plan Committee, formed in 2011, which then proposed the 'Envision Livingston' document to the full parish council.

That document was accepted and enacted by a full vote, and then left to languish 'on a counter top.'

Not this time, said Burns, who after being appointed chairman by the committee moved full steam ahead into the first presentations of the night. Lynn Maloney Mudica, a consultant for the first master plan, began the evening with a brief overview of where she believes the process should go.

Initially, Mudica explained that the plan had enough of a base that it did not need to be completely re-done, but would need to be updated to modern standards - including items like population densities, school districts, and any new drainage models.

Before Mudica could invite her engineering associate to the podium, she was asked about the price of updating a master plan by Burns. The original cost of the Master Plan was $450,000, she said.

"Your current one still has a good base," Mujica reiterated, "so the updating would be about half? Maybe a little more.

"But it's important to note that those funds can be divided up by scope."

For instance, she said, each part of the plan could be divided sub-area plans or, specifically, focused on drainage.

Mujica's colleague, a drainage engineer named Melissa Kennedy, has worked with East Baton Rouge Parish (except Central) on their overall 'Drainage Master Plan' and how to implement it.

Kennedy said that the process of creating a drainage master plan looks like this:

  1. Data collection, which includes relevant ordinances, land use restrictions, and population
  2. The gap analysis will determine what data is missing from the initial collection
  3. Public outreach on the plan - how does the public feel about it?
  4. Initiating Stakeholder Involvement, which includes public meetings, a website, social media posts, and participation with news outlets

She said that the biggest question for any project to answer is 'what do you want to achieve?' Otherwise, the process can stall without a true goal. Benchmarks and goals are also important, she said, because grants have requirements - therefore it is better to have a plan first, then seek funding.

Funding was a topic of concern among both committee members and parish council members who attended. The committee eventually agreed that they would pursue two forms of funding - a request letter to the parish council for funding through sales tax collection increases, if available.

The second potential funding source was grants, although the committee eventually agreed that method would have to come after a plan was enacted, since grants have requirements and therefore a specific one could not be selected.

Committee member Larry O'Neill said some kind of funding would be necessary, anyway, because grants require a match. He said that the committee can also use any consulting or engineering firms to pursue grants.

"They usually have people in-house who pursue those funds," O'Neill said.

Committee member Eileen Bates-McCarroll, mayor of Albany, wanted to amend the council letter to make sure it included the entire parish, not just the western portion where, in 2013, the growth was focused. The committee agreed and amended the letter directed at the council and Parish President Layton Ricks. The original letter was focused almost on the western side of the Parish - which included Watson, Walker, and Denham Springs - as well as the economic corridor running along I-12.

The committee members agreed to amend the original letter.

Zoning popped up at the end of the meeting, courtesy of Parish Councilman Tracy Girlinghouse, who wanted to make sure the committee didn't leave that out. Zoning was a big topic which spurred the movement to form the committee, he said, and asked that the committee not forget that fact.

For next time, the committee intends to focus on meeting with officials from Denham Springs and Walker who might better explain zoning; gravity drainage districts; and members of the parish government who are versed in advertising request for proposals and requests for qualifications.

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