Five “big ideas” are currently at the heart of a master plan to revitalize Plank Road.
Matt Rufo, a principal with the New Orleans office of Asakura Robinson, the firm that is developing the plan, said the process is “smack dab in the middle.” The goal is to present the final master plan on Plank Road in October, he said Friday during a update by the consulting team.
A number of public workshops and events have been held in the neighborhood over the past three months and a community roundtable will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday at the Delmont Gardens Branch Library. It will feature a number of elected officials, including Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome; State Sens. Yvonne Colomb and Regina Barrow; State Reps. Pat Smith, Barbara West-Carpenter, C. Denise Marcelle and Edmond Jordan; and Metro Council members Erika Green, Lamont Cole and Tara Wicker.
The ideas for Plank Road that have come out of the public meetings are:
- Amplify cultural history and neighborhood institutions. The could include doing things such as establishing cultural design guidelines that celebrate the history of Plank Road, developing a public art plan for the corridor, providing landscape and façade grants to business owners and building landmarks that benefit the community.
- Sustaining and growing commerce and access to jobs. That includes supporting existing and new black entrepreneurs with things such as networking opportunities and micro-loans, reducing fees and taxes for new small businesses, setting up public Wi-Fi to close the digital divide and developing workforce training programs to connect people to quality jobs.
- Protect and grow community wealth. That can happen by funding home repair programs for the poor, elderly and disabled, offering training for first-time homebuyers, building affordable and mixed-income rental properties, using tax increment financing to support infrastructure and services and allowing homeowners to buy vacant lots adjacent to their property.
- Build streets and neighborhoods that connect people to opportunities. That can be done by encouraging transit-oriented redevelopment, building a pedestrian infrastructure of sidewalks and crosswalks, making Plank Road safe for bicycles, lowering speed limits and reconnecting the street grid disrupted by Interstate 110.
- Strengthen the network of public spaces and ecological infrastructure. That can be done by establishing pocket parks, using green infrastructure to reduce flooding, creating “flex spaces” with lighting for events and community gatherings and enforcing codes.