Downtown Demonstration Days set for this weekend
After being postponed in October due to inclement weather, the exciting and innovative Downtown Demonstration Days event is finally set to go this Friday and Saturday (Dec. 13-14).
Over the summer, Terrebonne Parish Consolidated Government (TPCG) and the Houma Downtown Development Corporation (HDDC) announced Downtown Demonstration Days — a two-day demonstration to show the public their vision of what the downtown corridor could become.
“There are so many little strategies and types of improvements that can be made,” said Christopher Pulaski, director of Terrebonne Parish Planning and Zoning Department. “…How do you show people what you’re talking about? One of the most successful techniques to do it are these demonstration day projects.”
Main Street will merge into one lane around the intersection of Lafayette Street and Main Street, which will end on the intersection of Roussell Street and Main Street. There will be green-painted bike lanes along Main Street and courtesy bike boxes for bicycle turning, pedestrian right-of-way signage and bumpouts to decrease walking distances in the roadway.
The pilot will also feature angle parking along two blocks and back-in angle parking for one block. The latter, Pulaski explained, is safer than parallel and traditional angle parking because it positions occupants of the vehicle to go towards the sidewalk versus oncoming traffic.
“Imagine getting your children out of the car of a typical spot you pull into,” Pulaski explained. “Your doors open and your child exits towards the rear of the car, facing traffic. With back-in angle parking, your door shields your child from running into the street. They exit to the rear of the car, onto the sidewalk. Also, the trunk or back hatch of your vehicle is facing the sidewalk to make it easy to load packages or unload strollers and such.”
TPCG aims to provide safe access for pedestrians, bicyclists and automobiles.
They also are looking to create more foot traffic in the downtown area by adding such attractions as a food truck court and pop-up shops. Food vendors such as The Frying Station, Kenny’s Cajun Creole and Bee Cool Snowballs are scheduled to serve patrons at the demonstration. Calypso’s Bayou Paddleboarding Company, Bayou Terrebonne Distillers, BRAC’s Home Sweet Houma T-Shirts, Lil’ Sweet Pea’s Boutique, Kiki & Co. and Cajun Sweets Bakery pop-up shops will be open from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. on both days of the event. Maps of the pop-up shop areas can be viewed above.
On top of those exciting additions, TPCG has partnered with the Bayou Regional Arts Council and local artists for the art installations, and the St. Francis Vegetable Garden, LSU AgCenter and Louisiana Sea Grant to bring a farmer’s market to life — which will include fresh produce and seafood.
There will be drop-offs for ridesharing services as well.
Main Street Manager Anne Picou said that through this event, they hope to also configure the necessary systems to put in place that cater to those of the special needs community, too.
“Whether they’re visiting Houma, or they are actual residents of Houma, people like to gather amongst one another,” Picou added. “So, we’re trying to create that gathering essence for them.”
Although the changes during Demonstration Days will be temporary, TPCG hopes the feedback from the two-day experience will allow them to zero in on what will work in their masterplan to enhance Downtown Houma.
“We’re doing this because we want people to give us their feedback,” Pulaski said. “If you don’t come out and voice your opinion, we won’t know what you want,” Picou said.
Members of the community are asked to share their thoughts by taking the online survey at http://www.tpcg.org/downtown.
Pulaski said that this event wouldn’t be happening without the Gordon Dove Administration, his hardworking team, Picou, the Houma-Terrebonne Chamber of Commerce and all the other partners and sponsors of the demonstration. “We have been super busy and have had such a huge outpouring of support from the community on this project,” said Katie Tabor, planner with the Planning and Zoning Department.
“People like Downtown; there’s no question about that,” Pulaski said. “But we never want to stop improving, and we felt that we wanted to take a bigger leap than we’ve ever taken before.”