Master Plan committee

Gerald Burns was named chairman of the Master Plan committee.

There was a suggestion at the Livingston Parish Council a few weeks ago that the Master Plan Committee be dissolved.

The argument? Wasting taxpayer dollars.

When asked by the council as to what exactly that meant, the requestor for dissolution of the committee said ‘well the lights have to be on during the meeting.’

So the real question becomes: why?

The answer to that question is, currently, elusive for this writer. The better pursuit is to discuss why we shouldn’t dissolve the Master Plan Committee.

Often, citizens are after more. In fact, being in media, its easy to see just about every day every single thing that was missed or “under-reported” because our readers, listeners, and viewers are quick to point out less-than-expected journalism.

The expectations grow daily, which cross both the political and journalistic lines.

In the pursuit of “more”, in politics, it is often overlooked that those who are elected are human. Money, time, and in some cases the ability to focus on several threads at once comes second to the demand of raw output.

Members of the parish council are elected to represent the interests of the districts. They are paid for their efforts – for the council alone.

Committee members are unpaid.

There are some council members who choose to serve on committees – whether that be ordinance and finance, which meet at times before the council (if a quorum is present) and some choose to serve on the Master Plan Committee.

Those who serve on the master plan committee were interested in the subject and how it affects their areas. One member already moved off the committee and appointed someone to take his spot (John Wascom, District 4). And yet, the committee still holds nine members who are interested in developing a master plan for the parish.

Why is the master plan important? For the same reason any master plan should be put in place – it provides vision, and helps prepare the parish for situations which may arise that may fall in line with the future expansion of Livingston. The state wants to extend Highway 449 to the interstate? Wonderful, the master plan already had the appropriate statistics in place, and here’s the benefit. By the way, we also know what drainage and utility infrastructure should look like in the area, too.

But asking of a group of nine individuals, who already have a full agenda to sort through outside of the master plan, to deal with these issues arbitrarily extends the timeline of how quickly the plan can come to fruition.

Which seems counter to the whole “more” ideal.

Communication is paramount, and that seemed to be the issue in the early going between the council and the committee. Now, reports are given back-and-forth, and the committee has been given a focus – road infrastructure in the economic corridor, an area 1.5 miles north and south of I-12.

Allowing the committee time to formulate a plan and focus completely on it makes good sense – it’s their baby, let them run. The group is volunteering their time, and until there’s a complete communication breakdown between the council and committee, or they simply hit a roadblock, there’s no reason to end the utilization of their ideas and free labor.

J. McHugh David Jr. is editor and publisher of the Livingston Parish News.

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