A Baton Rouge resident says he’s organizing a march to raise awareness for the lack of development in north Baton Rouge, with plans to start on the north side of the city on Jan. 13 and end at City Hall downtown.
Tyronn Thomas, a self-described community organizer, said he’s watched his surroundings in north Baton Rouge grow worse over the two decades he has lived there while elected officials do not fix them. Thomas said hopes some relief may come from a property tax abatement proposal for developers in north Baton Rouge — an issue that will come up for a vote at Wednesday’s council meeting.
“They don’t fix anything, they don’t clean anything, they don’t bring entertainment here, they don’t bring anything here,” he said of north Baton Rouge. “We’re concerned now from Government Street all the way to Southern University, it’s raggedy, raggedy, raggedy.”
Thomas’ complaints included the lack of grocery stores in north Baton Rouge, the few sidewalks for people to walk their neighborhoods and the closure of the Howell Park Golf Course.
Concerns about development in north Baton Rouge have become the focus of public debate in recent months, especially after Mayor-President Kip Holden said in November that developers are not attracted to the northern part of the city.
Shortly afterward, Metro Councilman John Delgado proposed the property tax abatement incentive that will be voted on Wednesday. It would allow businesses to pay property taxes on the original value of blighted property for 10 years, rather than paying higher taxes once the land is developed.
Metro Councilwoman Chauna Banks-Daniel, who represents north Baton Rouge, also separately announced plans to pursue an economic development district in north Baton Rouge.
State Rep. Regina Barrow, D-Baton Rouge, passed legislation in spring 2015 to create an economic development district for the area in which a group of public officials and stakeholders would try to lure economic development projects to the north.
Delgado said he is not directly involved in Thomas’ march. He said Thomas is one of many people in north Baton Rouge who have applauded plans for north Baton Rouge improvements.
Delgado said he expects his tax abatement proposal to pass, despite former tensions from other council members who questioned why a councilman who represents south Baton Rouge wanted to revive the north.
“I cannot imagine why anyone would possibly vote against this,” Delgado said.
Thomas said he has hundreds of fliers ready to pass out to galvanize neighbors to march with him. He said he plans to start the march at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, either at his home on the 5000th block of Sherwood Street or in the Howell Park parking lot and reach City Hall in time for the Metro Council at 4 p.m.
“We plan to get up there and talk about how we’ve been forgotten about for decades,” Thomas said.