Viewpoint: November 6, 2009

It's tough in this economic environment to ask for and expect voters to approve any type of tax increase. It's been nearly 50 years since Baton Rouge voters have said yes to any major capital improvement plan. Mayor Holden tried last fall to pass a $900 million plus plan for public safety, drainage, and economic development initiatives. By a slim margin, Holden's plan was defeated. And, perhaps it was a good thing. That's because the Mayor is back with a new version of his plan, which will be on the ballot Nov. 14. The proposal is $90 million less than before and there are significant changes to Audubon Alive, one of the more controversial parts of the mayor's plan. While the idea for a public/private partnership has drawn strong criticism, it is not a new concept. San Antonio Riverwalk, Chicago's Millennium Park, Cleveland's Rock and Roll Hall of fame, and the Superdome...are all part of a public/private partnership.

The new plan for the Audubon Alive riverfront development focuses on education and recreation. LSU and Southern are on board as scientific research partners. There is more public green space and plans for a public amphitheatre on the river to highlight our unique music and culture.

Mayor Holden could have kept his bond proposal strictly to drainage and public safety issues like replacing the crumbling parish prison, building a new juvenile detention facility, and synchronizing traffic signals…all projects that we believe are sorely needed. But, he believes his riverfront development plan is the type of project that will move Baton Rouge forward in the future. We agree

It's up to you to take a good look at the entire proposal and see if it's what you want for your future. Please, study the issue and make your vote count.