The ninth annual Louisiana Smart Growth Summit begins Nov. 10 offering panel discussions on everything from how to stretch transportation dollars to the impact of climate change.
Nearly 900 people attended the three-day event in 2013, and organizers think the crowds may be bigger this year. The smart growth summit will be held at the Shaw Center for the Arts in downtown Baton Rouge.
“We’re hitting on so many things the attendees really like; it’s a smorgasbord,” said Elizabeth “Boo” Thomas, president and CEO of the Center for Planning Excellence, which sponsors the conference. “But we always concentrate on transportation.”
To help with the transportation angle will be one of two keynote speakers, AC Wharton Jr., the mayor of Memphis, Tennessee. Wharton has used neighborhood grants and boosted the number of bike trails and sidewalks in the city. He’s also launched a crime-prevention program and worked to eliminate blight in Memphis — all issues that are of particular interest and concern in Baton Rouge.
The other keynote speaker, Harriet Tregoning, with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Economic Resilience, has ties to Baton Rouge.
“She’s somebody who has been a friend of ours, and we have gotten her advice for a long time,” Thomas said. Tregoning had been the smart growth officer for former Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening and the former planning director for the city of Washington, D.C., before joining the staff at HUD.
The conference will contain panel discussions on two big issues that the Baton Rouge Area Foundation is working on: the restoration of the LSU Lakes and the creation of a health district in the area around Perkins Road, Essen Lane and Bluebonnet Boulevard.
The lakes program will feature Bob Becker, the chief executive officer of New Orleans City Park, and Kinder Baumgardner, the president of SWA Group, which helped revitalize Buffalo Bayou in Houston by restoring the waterway and adding park space in the city. “We were blown away by the work that was done on Buffalo Bayou,” Thomas said.
The health district discussion will feature Matthew Enstice, president and CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, which has been a model for Baton Rouge leaders.
The 2014 Smart Growth Summit events include:
KEYNOTE EVENT: 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., Nov. 10; Manship Theater. Featured speaker is Wharton.
WELCOME: 8:30 a.m. to 9:45 a.m., Nov. 11; Manship Theater. Remarks from Cordell Haymon, chairman of the board of CPEX, and a session with Tregoning.
STRETCHING DOLLARS: 10 a.m. to 11:15 a.m., Nov. 11; Manship Theater. Officials with the Tennessee Department of Transportation will discuss how the state has used a “right-sizing approach” to fund state and local transportation projects, while saving tax dollars.
EMBRACING WATER: 12:50 p.m. to 2:05 p.m., Nov. 11; Hartley/Vey Studio. What organizations are doing to lead to more resilient communities and an update on the Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan.
BIG IDEAS, SMALL TOOLS: 12:50 p.m. to 2:05 p.m., Nov. 11; Hartley/Vey Workshop. Officials from four Lafayette organizations will discuss working together to implement plans and engage the community. The session will discuss the plans for the 100-acre Horse Farm park.
GREAT LAKES, GREAT PARKS: 2:05 p.m. to 3:20 p.m., Nov. 11; Manship Theatre. A discussion about projects, including the restoration of Buffalo Bayou in Houston, and a look at the six Baton Rouge Lakes and what is coming up for the project.
WHO OWNS WHAT?: 3:20 p.m. to 4:35 p.m., Nov. 11; Manship Theatre. A look at the legal and economic impacts of annexation and incorporation.
FUTURE OF COASTAL COMMUNITIES: 4:35 p.m. to 5:45 p.m., Nov. 11; Manship Theatre. The session will feature the release of a best-practices guide that was done after a survey of Louisiana’s coastal parishes.
PLANNING FOR A NEW DAY: 9 a.m. to 10:20 a.m., Nov. 12; Manship Theatre. A panel discussion featuring Bob Rivers, who was recently named as planning director for the New Orleans City Planning Commission, and Frank Duke, who took over in June as planning director of the East Baton Rouge City-Parish Planning Commission.
“POLISEAS” OF CHANGE: 10:20 a.m. to 11:45 a.m., Nov. 12; Manship Theatre. A discussion on sea level rise, climate change and how those issues are being incorporated in policies.
THE RIVER REGION BOOM: 11:45 a.m. to 1:20 p.m., Nov. 12; Manship Theatre. A discussion of who will take the lead in planning for the wave of industrial development along the Mississippi River.
FRESHWATER SUSTAINABILITY: 1:20 p.m. to 2:35 p.m., Nov. 12; Manship Theatre. A program on groundwater consumption, the industry’s use of water and the management of water and water rights.
HEALTH DISTRICT: 2:35 p.m. to 4 p.m., Nov. 12; Manship Theatre. A discussion about leveraging health care assets, such as regional hospitals and medical schools, as drivers for economic development.
For the complete list of events and speakers, go to summit.cpex.org. Registration is $65 for one day or $100 for the full event. The conference is free for students, professors, CPEX members and event sponsors.