Revitalization of Downtown on the horizon
DOWNTOWN HOUMA WILL LOOK DIFFERENT ON OCTOBER 18 …TEMPORARILY.
The Terrebonne Parish Planning and Zoning Department announced in July that it will showcase potential street structural changes on October 18-19 in Downtown Houma during their Downtown Demonstration Day project.
“There are so many little strategies and types of improvements that can be made. You can’t just say, ‘Okay, everybody get on the plane; we’re going to fly to Greenville, South Carolina or Fairhope, Alabama,’” 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.”
From the intersection of Barataria Boulevard and Main Street to the intersection of Roussell Street and Main Street, there will be green-painted bike lanes along that stretch.
The road will also merge into one lane around the intersection of Lafayette Street and Main Street and that will end on the intersection of Roussell Street and Main Street as well.
There will also be 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 (intersection of Lafayette Street and Main Street to the intersection of Church Street and Main Street) and back-in angle parking for one block (intersection of Main Street and Goode Street to the intersection of Roussell Street and Main Street), which Pulaski explained was 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,” explained Pulaski. “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.”
The Planning and Zoning Department aims to create a ‘complete street’ that provides 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, pop-up shops in a few of the empty storefronts, more outside seating areas, a farmer’s market, pocket parks for family fun, public art installations and more, for the two day demonstration.
Pulaski and Main Street Manager Anne Picou both said they are looking into creating drop-offs for such ride services as Uber and Lyft as well.
It really wouldn’t be a true test of Downtown functionality without a festival. What better way to demonstrate the richness of our community than to have a festival in the heart of downtown that benefits our community through the gift of volunteering and financial support.
The Kiwanis Club of Houma will be hosting its first Howl-O-Ween Dog Parade and Festival at the courthouse square Friday, October 19 from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The event kicks off with a short canine parade after which awards for best dog costume, best owner/pet look alike costume, obedience and other categories will be presented. There will also be a howling contest and the coronation of a king and queen based on essays submitted from the dog’s point of view. Various dog-related vendors will have booths presenting their wares and offering tips on grooming and pet care. The event is a fundraiser for the Kiwanis through sponsors and donations from participants.
Another aspect the Department and the Main Street Program is looking into, if possible, is lowering the speed limit for that stretch of Main Street, Picou said, to make the pedestrian flow easier and safer. She also expressed that she hoped that through this event, they could configure the necessary systems to put in place that cater to those of the special needs community.
“The administration is really keen, along with the Main Street program, on bringing that sense of place for citizens. Whether they’re visiting Houma, or they are actual residents of Houma, people like to gather amongst one another,” Picou said. “So, we’re trying to create that gathering essence for them.”
Although these changes will be temporary, the Department hopes the feedback from the two-day experience will allow them to zero in on what will work and what won’t work in their masterplan to enhance Downtown Houma.
“We’re doing this not just because we’re curious; 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 added.
Pulaski acknowledged that this event wouldn’t be happening without the Gordon Dove Administration, his hardworking team, Picou, the Houma-Terrebonne Chamber of Commerce and all of the other partners and sponsors of the demonstration.
Volunteers are needed, Pulaski said, and they can call Katie Tabor — who has been planning the demonstration from the ground up with Pulaski — at 985-873-6569 to register.
To follow any updates on the event, visit the Terrebonne Parish Consolidated Government’s website at https://www.tpcg.org/downtown.
An image of the site plan can be seen above or visit the link provided below for more details.
“Downtown revitalization has been underway in Houma for 20-plus years, and they’ve done an excellent job. But it still continues to be a challenge to attract or retain businesses in the downtown area,” Pulaski said. “People like Downtown; there’s no question about that. But we never want to stop improving, and we felt that we wanted to take a bigger leap than we’ve ever taken before.” •