The consultants working on a major revision to Ascension Parish's comprehensive plan are closing in on their initial public rollout after working the past few months behind the scenes to start the project.
Public workshops are planned June 4-6 to lay out a broad vision for the parish, consultants with the Center for Planning Excellence have recently reported.
But, before the center is ready for citizen input, its consultants have been meeting with selected leaders and residents, including nine of the 11 Parish Council members, parish officials have said.
Part of that preparation has included the formation of a 29-member stakeholder advisory committee that is supposed to serve as a sounding board for the center and its subconsultants on possible ideas for the plan rewrite.
"The stakeholder committee is real important for us. ... Before we go public with ideas, we go to this committee, which is usually about 28 people, so that we can make sure what we're talking about makes sense and really use them as a back-and-forth as far as getting information," Janet Tharp, Center for Planning Excellence director of planning, told the parish Planning Commission in March before the group was finalized.
Members of the stakeholder committee include the mayors of Gonzales and Sorrento; a parish councilman; five school system officials; a Sheriff's Office official; and several representatives of the parish business and industrial community, as well as Eatel Corp. and St. Elizabeth Hospital.
The committee has met once in April but plans to meet again May 1.
The comprehensive plan lays out a vision for the parish's future, designating broad principles for planning and development and future land uses. Past major revisions of the plan that have attempted to factor in the parish's continued growth have proven controversial.
A few years ago, however, the center which also does work around the state, shepherded the city of Gonzales' master plan with little controversy. The Parish Council agreed to hire the center in December. The council has set aside $450,000 for the center's contract, though final contract numbers weren't immediately available.
In addition to the comprehensive plan effort, the administration of Parish President Kenny Matassa also has separate consultants developing road and drainage master plans, which the center plans to integrate into the comprehensive plan.
Parish government officials named the following members of the stakeholder committee in a statement April 12:
College/School: David Alexander, superintendent of Ascension Parish Schools; Wanda August, parent facilitator for Ascension Parish school system; Ken Campbell, executive director of IDEA Charter Schools; Dale Doty, chancellor of River Parishes Community College; Denise Graves, assistant superintendent of Ascension Parish Schools; Chad Lynch, Ascension Parish school system director of planning and construction; and Beth Templet, St. Amant High School principal.
Government: Gonzales Mayor Barney Arceneaux; Jackie Baumann, Gonzales city chief engineer; Ascension Parish Councilman John Cagnolatti; Julio Dumas, Ascension Parish planning and zoning commissioner; Sorrento Mayor Mike Lambert; Lee Melancon, Donaldsonville director of community and economic development; Matt Pryor, Ascension Parish Planning and Zoning Commission chairman; and Maj. Mike Toney, of the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office.
Industry/Business: Barker Dirmann, president and CEO of the Ascension Chamber of Commerce; Stacey Chiasson Gautreau, Louisiana public affairs leader for Dow Chemical; Don Hanna, Realtor; T. Bradley Keith, principal of Gulf South Strategies and Solutions; Henry Schexnayder, commercial relationship manager for Red River Bank; Dana Scott, of BASF; and Clay Stafford, president of Double D of Louisiana LLC.
Institutional: Janet Britton, general counsel and executive vice president of Eatel; Robert Burgess, president of St. Elizabeth Hospital; Mike Cayette, Joyy Joseph and Alyce Robinson, residents of Donaldsonville; Derrick Coco, member of Ascension Economic Development Corporation board of directors; and Kate MacArthur, president and chief executive director of AEDC.