BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - To gain a true perspective of what the people of Baton Rouge need, city leaders chose to go straight to the source.
"It’s time to rise above all this,” Herbert Moore, President of Istrouma Improvement Association said. “We’ve been down for so long. It’s time for us to get up.”
Residents and business owners along the Plank Road corridor participated in Saturday’s “Walk the Plank” event, organized by the East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority ( EBRRD ). A trolley picked up attendees from the Sacred Heart Church on Main Street, made several stops on Plank Road where EBRRD representatives and residents discussed what’s best for the city’s oldest commercial corridor.
EBRRD’s primary goals are focused on fighting blight, fixing up neighborhoods and forwarding the proposed bus rapid transit improvements. The plan includes a comprehensive revitalization effort that the redevelopment authority is hosting to improve the conditions and opportunities.
It’s a battle community leaders say begins on Plank Road.
“Plank Road is one of the oldest commercial corridors in the city-parish,” Christopher Tyson, CEO of the East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority said. “It’s the heart of Baton Rouge.”
Tyson adds that mobility is important for the redevelopment of the community and particularly for the northern part of the parish. “We have our highest concentration of zero-car households and one of the highest transit usages routes in the city-parish.”
During the ride tour and community walk, city leaders dialed in on economic development.
Tyson said the redevelopment authorities wants to bring people to the corridor to help them understand some of the existing conditions. “We’re thinking through what the community needs and how to use the vacancy and the blight to turn that around into something productive,” Tyson said.
The authority owns a 3,000 square foot vacant building formerly known as The R&B Cafe along at the intersection of Plank Road and Weller Avenue. Leaders of the EBR Redevelopment Authority say that building has historical value and can be given new life. They want ideas to bring it up to par. Some see it may be serving a dual purpose as a grocery store and community center.
“We want to keep the kids in that community safe,” Istrouma Improvement Association President, Herbert Moore, said. “That’s what we’re looking for. Anything to enhance the community.”
The last stop of the tour brought concerned citizens to a part of town that most probably don't travel to and that's exactly why the EBR Redevelopment Authority is working.
They say it’s a fight that will take everyone to win.
“Everyone has to come together,” Tyson says. “No matter where you live in Baton Rouge, no matter what part of the city that you're from. Everyone has a stake in making Baton Rouge a great place.”
It’s not too late to give the EBR Redevelopment Authority feedback. The organization hosting a food truck roundup on April 6th and the public is invited to attend.