East Feliciana Moving Forward with Plan
By James Ronald Skains
“The East Feliciana Master Plan was several years in the making and cost a lot of money,’’ Dennis Aucoin, President of the East Feliciana Parish Police Jury told the EXPLORER. “There have been a lot of changes from the first draft and it was tweaked quite a bit over the last year. We took out all the mandates that said “You shall do this or that,’’ and substituted “You may do this or that.”
“It is a very comprehensive plan for the future of the parish. I like it now that it has been tweaked several times, but at one point I was not supportive of the plan. During the early stage of the plan when we were having public meetings around the parish, they were showing a video of a log truck going through downtown Clinton. Someone made the comment that “the log trucks were one of the main problems in the parish.”
“At that point, I walked out of the meeting because logging has been my livelihood for the last 35 years. I felt that if the people didn’t see the value of the timber industry in our Parish, a good Master Plan could not be developed. However, the thinking that the timber and logging industry was not good for the Parish was an isolated opinion, and as the Plan was developed and tweaked, I became a supporter of the Plan. I’m glad that the Jury approved the Plan.”
The official name of “The EFP Plan” is: East Feliciana Comprehensive Resiliency Plan (EFCRP). The motto of the Plan is: “East Feliciana – Moving Forward by Honoring our Past by Looking to the Future.”
One of the major questions for the residents of EFP was: “What will the Parish look like under this Comprehensive Plan?” That question is answered at the beginning of Chapter 2 on page 10 of the EFCRP: The EF Vision is a description of how the Parish might look and feel in the future.
• A rural landscape with thriving town centers
• A future focused on education and jobs
• The Premier Place to find Natural areas, open space, parks and trails
• Connectivity and Accessibility through Parish infrastructure
The 121 pages of comprehensive details use the concept of “Guiding Principles” as it explores the best path forward for EFP. The EFCRP is divided into 13 sections with a 3 Appendixes, which examine in detail, Socioeconomics, Resources for Funding and Financing and an Inventory of Cultural and Heritage Assets.
The Introduction Section is titled: A Vibrant Future for East Feliciana. Chapter 1 focused on The East Feliciana. Chapter 2 took a close look at East Feliciana Parish Today. Chapter 3 looks at the elements of the EFCRP. Chapter 4 begins to formulate the Goals, Strategies and Actions, and Chapter 5 details the “Strategic Implementation Plan.”
The Chapter on “Strategic Implementation Plan” is divided into 6 subsections based on the existing towns and villages in EFP. Those specific areas detailed in the Strategic Implementation Plan include the towns of Slaughter, Clinton, and Jackson along with the villages of Wilson and Norwood, and The Sticks Community on page 113.
The Comprehensive Plan developed details 5 guiding principles for EFP: Land Use and Housing, Transportation, Economy, Equity and Opportunity, and Healthy Environment. It was developed through Public Engagement by listening to Parish residents and over 100 stakeholders
As the plan points out, the East Feliciana Vision and Comprehensive Plan is rooted in the wisdom of the Parish’s engaged leaders and citizenry.
This strong public engagement effort used by the developers of the EFPCRP, involved citizens across the parish in a combination of stakeholder interviews, parish wide and town focused workshops as well as an up to date active website. All the efforts by the developers of the plan ensured broad representation and offers key local insights, and hundreds of East Feliciana Residents shared their histories, their ideas, and their future vision for the parish they call home.
57 residents of EFP provided the leadership over several years to get the EFPCRP developed and approved by the Police Jury. Those participants were divided into 4 categories: a 22 Member Advisory Committee, a 15 member East Feliciana Parish Development District, a 9 member Planning Commission and the Police Jury along with Glen Kent the Police Jury manager.
Bobby Bourgeois chaired the Development District Board with Tony Rouchon as Co-Chair. Mary Jo Salmon served as Planning Coordinator, and Brent Soileau was project manager.
6 Consulting firms worked on the EFPCRP. Inly-Horn and Associated Inc. was the Lead Consultant with Tharp Planning Group, Frigonese Associates, ECONorthwest and Franklin Associates contributing to the Plan.
“It was a long process and very controversial at times,’’ Dennis Aucoin confirmed; “however, I think that it is a good pathway forward for the Parish. It will help us all focus on what can be done in the future. I’m proud of the Comprehensive Resiliency Plan.”
Writer’s note: The East Feliciana Comprehensive Resiliency Plan can be viewed in its entirety on the East Feliciana Parish website.