Fort Polk casting eye toward future

By By Lauren Manary / American Press

FORT POLK — Fort Polk officials have taken the first steps toward developing a master plan for the next 10-20 years, and they’ve invited soldiers, military dependents and locals to help.

The Fort Polk Vision Practicum, held Monday, promised a master plan. Although no major construction has been planned for Fort Polk, officials said small changes would lead to a happier community.

Mark Gillem, a consultant for the Urban Collaborative and a professor at the University of Oregon, said Fort Polk sent out a survey that revealed easy and relatively inexpensive changes topped the list.

Respondents overwhelmingly supported improving infrastructure, including making the post more pedestrian friendly and improving bike paths, running trails and roads, he said. The survey also found that many in the community would like more on-post recreation.

Gillem said developing plans like these can help generate funding. “People get excited about it and then they start putting together money,” he said.

Lorna Hanes, community planner for Fort Polk public works and primary organizer of the event, said the workshops were designed to find out where to allocate resources in the future. “We will be asking, ‘Where do we want to work first?” Hanes said. “Just like everywhere else, money is tight.”