NEWS

Ascension to receive portion of multi-area planning grant funding

Staff reports

BATON ROUGE - The Center for Planning Excellence (CPEX) recently announced that Ascension Parish is one of five communities that have been selected to participate in its 2008 Louisiana Community Planning Program.

The other communities included are St. Charles Parish, the City of Bastrop, Lafayette Consolidated Parish and the City of Jena.

Each will share in $380,000 of seed funding grants and technical assistance to aid in Smart Growth planning efforts. Specifically,  selected communities will receive direct staff assistance from CPEX in the form of community outreach and education and help with project management and oversight.

Ascension Parish and St. Charles Parish will each receive $100,000 in seed funding, while Bastrop and Lafayette Consolidated Parish will each receive $50,000. Jena will receive $80,000 in seed funding. Each community was required to provide a dollar-for-dollar match for the funds that they requested.

U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu helped to secure the seed funding for the Center for Planning Excellence and the community planning grants.

“It is very gratifying indeed to see how our efforts to bring resources for strategic planning to cities and towns in Louisiana has taken root and now is coming into bloom,” Landrieu said. “I will remain committed to my vision and will continue to fund CPEX so we can bring planning resources to communities throughout Louisiana.”

CPEX employed a stringent and impartial process to rank the applications and ultimately select the communities that will receive funding. The five selected communities ranked the highest at the end of this process.

“The five communities were chosen from a pool of more than 20 applicants from throughout Louisiana,” said Camille Manning-Broome, Principal Planner for CPEX’s Louisiana Community Planning Program. “While CPEX would like to provide some level of assistance to all the communities that applied for the program, financial and programmatic restrictions dictated that only five communities be selected for seed funding and direct assistance during the 2008 phase of the Louisiana Community Planning Program.”

CPEX announced the launch of the 2008 Louisiana Community Planning Program earlier in the summer and asked community leaders to submit applications requesting assistance with the development of Comprehensive Master Plans, Infill/Redevelopment Plans, Neighborhood Plans, Downtown Plans, Corridor Plans and other types of community plans.

CPEX’s Louisiana Community Planning Program was created in 2006 through a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This grant allowed CPEX to assist Tangipahoa and West Feliciana Parishes, as well as provide seed funding for the creation of the Louisiana Land Use Toolkit, a new instrument designed to help communities across the state deal with zoning and development issues.

The success of the planning efforts in Tangipahoa and West Feliciana Parishes allowed CPEX, with help from Landrieu, to obtain additional funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). In turn, this funding allowed CPEX to launch the 2008 Community Planning Program and will allow additional assistance to be provided to communities in 2009.

“We are very thankful for the HUD grant because it allows us to put money into the communities to support planning efforts,” said Boo Thomas, President and CEO of CPEX. “While we can’t go into every community this year, we do hope to continue this grant program.”

CPEX’s Louisiana Community Planning Program is committed to encouraging the adoption of Smart Growth Principles and the Louisiana Speaks Regional Plan. Smart Growth Principles include creation of housing opportunities and choices, the preservation of open space and farmland, the development of walkable neighborhoods and encouragement of community and stakeholder collaboration. For a list of Smart Growth Principles, visit the CPEX Web site. The Louisiana Speaks Regional Plan is the Louisiana Recovery Authority’s long-term plan for recovery and growth in South Louisiana. It is the result of 18 months of work facilitated by some of the top planners in Louisiana and the country, built upon and validated by the participation of more than 27,000 Louisiana residents. To learn more about the Louisiana Speaks Regional Plan, visit www.louisianaspeaks.org.

For more information on the 2008 Louisiana Community Planning Program, contact Manning-Broome at 267-6300 or camille@c-pex.org.