It's good news that the mayor-president wants to move quickly to implement the new parish master plan ("Holden appoints FutureBR committee," Oct. 26). But changing the way things are done in Baton Rouge will still be an uphill climb.

As a case in point, two days before the mayor-president's event, the Planning Commission approved a large subdivision to be built on River Road south of LSU, despite serious questions raised about the congestion this will cause on a narrow, two-lane road, and the effects on drainage in an area already subject to sand boils and water seepage when the Mississippi River is high.

It was only a few months ago that River Road was closed during this year's high-water event because of concerns about the stability of the levee. Ironically, the commission made its decision on the same day the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced River Road between Brightside and Ben Hur will be closed for months while the levee is repaired. All food for thought - and presumably information relevant for planning.

A basic question that the parish faces is whether allowing the corridor of open land along River Road to be turned into high density subdivisions is the best that Baton Rouge can do with this nationally significant resource. Coupled with the critical importance of the levee, and the need to acknowledge hydrology as a fact of life in Louisiana, the need to do something different for the River Road corridor presents both opportunity and necessity - and both can be squandered.

The master plan highlights the importance of agricultural land, open space and conservation as priorities for Baton Rouge. But there is no conservation plan for River Road, nor is one intended, at least by some portions of the local government.

What's clear, and no surprise, is that the FutureBR plan will be adhered to only if the public insists on it.

Doug Daigle

program coordinator

Baton Rouge