LC REBOUND – District C: Residents express concern for inner-city connectivity at community meeting

Published 6:49 am Saturday, September 23, 2023

The city of Lake Charles hosted the third community meeting on LC REBOUND Thursday for the residents of District C at Oak Park Middle School.

LC REBOUND is a tax-neutral bond proposal that modernizes the city’s antiquated tax structure. If passed by voters in November, it will lead to $190 million in infrastructure and quality-of-life investments.

There are several infrastructure and beautification projects included in LC REBOUND that will directly affect District C, Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter said.

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The Prien Lake Road Beautification project will improve aesthetics from Ryan Street to La. Hwy 14, replace concrete with greenspace to improve drainage, enhance signage and promote economic development at an estimated cost of $2.25 million.

The city will be contributing $4 million to La. Hwy. 14 resurfacing a beautification project. The State Department of Transportation and Development will be covering the rest of the cost.

The Mid-City Enterprise Boulevard and Mid-City 5th Avenue beautification projects will also improve aesthetics and landscaping. Each will cost approximately $500,000.

Citizens at the community meeting expressed concern for inner-city connectivity. They referenced private businesses retreating from the area and the need for road and beautification improvements on 10 main streets connecting the inner city – Shattuck Street, 4th Avenue, Moeling Street, Simmons Street, Fitzenrider Road, Oak Park Boulevard, Alamo Street, Pine Street, Mill Street, Kirkman Street and Broad Street.

“If we fail those 10 streets and don’t pay attention to them, we’re going to have problems in the future,” said one local.

Hunter said that the city will not be limited to projects included in LC REBOUND over the next few years.

“We have the ability to accomplish other projects above and beyond this. We could only include so much in the bond proposal, but it doesn’t mean we’ve handcuffed ourselves to the point where we can’t accomplish other streets.”

The city will continue to look at multiple sources of funding to complete projects in and out of the LC REBOUND bond proposal. He said they are “aggressively applying” for a federal grant called Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods Program. This grant works to help communities that have been affected by the interstate system.

“I think Lake Charles is almost a case study for how the interstate system coming through affected one side of the city differently than the other.”

He also noted that the city can make “strategic investments” to bring the businesses and resources to the area.

Parks in District C will receive a lot of love.

The size of Huber Park will be increased. Hunter said that the community center at Huber Park is one of the most utilized centers in the city. The LC REBOUND plan includes increased functionality of the community center. The building will be expanded to allow for larger events or multiple simultaneous events.

An office for community policing will also be included. Additional parking will be added to the southwest corner of the park.

Buddy Prejean Park’s ballfields will be retrofitted to align with LHSAA baseball and softball regulations. Hunter said that LaGrange High School will likely use the fields as their home fields.

Fencing will be added to allow for ticketed and access control events. The concession stands will be upgraded and the lighting will be improved. There are also plans to add a splash pad.

A new recreational amenity called the “Great Lawn” will be added to a city-owned property off of Prejean Drive. This lawn will be activated for special events – outdoor movies series, yoga in the park, band performances, outdoor classrooms – and will serve as “an opportunity for people to gather in an open space and to have some good quality fun and family-friendly entertainment.”

The Boys and Girls club at the youth center at Columbus Circle has been a “resounding success.” There are over 90 children currently on the waiting list for this center.

“The need is so great for positive interaction with our youth.”

For this reason, the city plans to expand the Columbus Circle Center and build two more; one of the new centers will also be in District C, on Anita Drive.

The centers will be built to fortified standards – they will be able to withstand hurricane strength winds – and will double as community resilience hubs.

The second new center will be built at J.D. Clifton.

The fourth LC REBOUND meeting will be for District F and will be 5:30-6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 28 at Henry Heights Community Center, 801 E. School St.