Twelve years ago, I moved to Baton Rouge full of excitement to start a new job and live in a bigger city that had so much more to offer than the one where I was born and reared (in Lafourche Parish) and the one where I lived prior to my move (in Terrebonne Parish).
A few years ago, when the talk of the city of St. George first started, I was not a fan. However, I understood why some folks were upset about their voices not being heard by city-parish officials with their concerns about schools and such. I do reside within the boundaries of the proposed city, and when I recently looked at the map of the proposed city, two things struck me: (1) the area of the proposed city is smaller than I remember and (2) the shapes of the northern and western borders.
I thought (perhaps naïvely) that the entire unincorporated residential area of Baton Rouge was to be in the proposed city of St. George. When did that change? Why did that change? Looking at the northern border, I can’t help but see that it resembles the eroding Louisiana coastline only flipped upside down. (Perhaps a metaphor for the erosion of the whole of Baton Rouge should the measure to create this new city pass?)
Not quite as obvious are the smaller, almost invisible squares that are excluded along the border’s southwest stretch of Bluebonnet between Perkins and Highland, closest to the library. There are a few residential areas that look to be carved out. Similarly, there is a larger residential area off Perkins near Siegen that is carved out.
Why were these random neighborhoods, which are in the unincorporated area, not being included in the proposed city of St. George? Or is it not random at all, but strategic? A colleague who also lives within the proposed city boundaries talked to a city of St. George spokesperson who said that the created boundaries are “legal.” While there may be some truth to that, are the boundaries morally or ethically right? Naïve no longer, it appears to me that the map’s creators took it upon themselves to determine that some folks in the unincorporated area of Baton Rouge are not worth including in a proposed city which, ironically, would be named after a Christian saint. Do those folks’ voices not count? Do they not deserve to be heard?
Twelve years ago, I moved to Baton Rouge. On October 12, I intend to cast my vote to remain in Baton Rouge: a vote of solidarity and unity, not one of eroded boundaries.