A 20-year development plan for Scotlandville unveiled Thursday envisions a historic neighborhood returned to its glory through better planning, community involvement and economic investment guided by public and private partnerships.
The Scotlandville Comprehensive Community Development Plan, which will be incorporated into Future BR — the city-parish’s overhaul of its comprehensive master plan, was two years in the making.
Teams — led by Southern University School of Architecture’s Urban+Rural Community Design Research Center —conducted community and business surveys, and held public workshops and student design competitions. Some 600 businesses, residents and community leaders participated.
“This day would not have happened had it not been for you,” Archie Tiner, an associate professor, told the more than 150 people at the Jewel Newman Community Center in Scotlandville.
Speakers encouraged residents to draw inspiration from the neighborhood’s history and stay involved as the plan helps shape the community.
“You are a community with a new attitude,” said Ebony Galloway, of Citizens Against Drugs and Violence.
Scotlandville is bounded to the north by Blount Road and Scenic Highway, on the west by the Mississippi River, on the south by Harding Boulevard and on the east by Elm Grove Garden Drive.
According to a 60-plus page synopsis, the plan will focus on 10 key areas:
e_SBlt Community image: This part of the plan deals with neighborhood upkeep and beautification through partnerships with such organizations as Baton Rouge Green and Keep Baton Rouge Beautiful. It encourages design guidelines to define construction and the creation of gateway areas, at Southern University, for example. The plan stresses the need for consistent signage distinctive to the neighborhood.
e_SBlt Economic development: Nurturing business development starts with the Scotlandville University district near Southern. The community identified a grocery store, coffee shops, laundry facilities, an ice cream parlor and neighborhood restaurants, and arts and cultural venues for this area. Encouraging this kind of development would involve tax incentives, university resources and the East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority. The RDA has grants, loans and land banking capabilities.
e_SBlt Education: The closure of Banks Elementary School was a major concern in the community, and absent reversing the decision, finding a way to turn it into a new elementary and high school with an adult education component for after-hours tutoring of adults working to get their GED as well as computer literacy classes for seniors.
e_SBlt Environmental concerns: The plan encourages working with state and local government to solve odor problems from the sewerage treatment plant north of Southern. It also includes trying to jumpstart a plan to put solar paneling at the old tank farm owned by ExxonMobil between Scotland Avenue and Scenic Highway, just north of Blount Road.
• Housing: During the planning process, Scotlandville residents expressed frustration with the lack of housing types and poor quality housing, and the plan encourages building new student housing, townhomes and senior housing. The plan also stresses the need to modernize existing homes, making them more energy efficient. All this would have to come through partnerships with the RDA, the Scotlandville Community Development Corp., the Louisiana Housing Finance Agency and the Urban Restoration Enhancement Corp.
• Infrastructure: At “every available opportunity, residents addressed the need for additional resources and maintenance of the infrastructure in the community,” the plan notes. Poor drainage, lighting, sidewalks, streetscape and road maintenance were regular complaints. The plan says water management experts have recommended solutions to drainage issues that could be looked at with the Department of Public Works.
• Recreation and entertainment: The plan calls for the creation of small, so-called pocket parks and more programming of activities aimed at children and teens. A skate park under Interstate 110 and a farmers market were among the ideas, as well as an “Eco Park” similar to Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center. Southern and BREC are potential partners in bringing such projects to life.
• Safety and crime: Police visibility and community relations are recommended as key to reducing crime in Scotlandville. The plan stresses the creation and promotion of neighborhood watch programs and the use of lighting and visibility to discourage crime.
• Social policies and community awareness: The plan compiles community services available through churches, civic groups and government agencies, noting residents are not always aware of what is available to them.
• Transportation: Scotlandville needs more streets that accommodate not just cars, but transit, pedestrians and cyclists. The plan will work to identify a target area for “transit-oriented development,” generally defined as a rail station with mixed development within a half-mile radius from the transit anchor.
The plan includes a section on implementation that identifies which goals are achievable in the short-, medium- and long-term. It will be available online beginning Tuesday at www.urcdrc.org and at the Scotlandville and Southern University libraries.