In the News: Providence Technical Services at Iowa Visioning Forum
Iowa Town Council hosts Visioning Forum
By Natalie Stewart / American Press
IOWA, LA — The Interstate 10 outlet mall, sewage systems and a senior center were among issues discussed at the town’s Visioning Forum on Thursday.
The forum was the first in a series to gain residents’ perspective on issues and to begin creating an economic development plan for the town.
Mayor Carol Ponthieux said she and the Town Council wanted to hold the forum so it would be the “entire community’s plan rather than the mayor or the council’s plan.”
Ernie Broussard, planning and economic development consultant, said this is a “critical time” in planning for economic development and public policy.
“Iowa is the gateway community into Calcasieu Parish, and it’s the last community on the way out,” he said.“Its success and vibrance is felt throughout the region. Iowa is going to make steps to execute its future, and we want to know how that plays in the regional scene and what benefits it could have.”
Broussard said the main goal of the forum was to talk about what role Iowa plays in the region and discuss where the town is as a community, as well as how residents hope to see the town develop and improve.
Mart Black, senior planner at Providence Technical Services, presented two planning executions to the more than 50 attendees— strategic planning, which focuses on actions that lead to a desired result, and comprehensive planning, which has a more broad focus where goals are determined, research and data gathering as well as periodic reviews are done, and plans are formulated.
Following the presentation the floor was opened up for public input, and residents weren’t shy about discussing town issues.
An Iowa businesswoman said her main issue was that she feels the outlet mall has been “forgotten and overlooked by Iowa residents.”
“There is very little support from the community; there’s virtually no support for the businesses in this town,” she said.“Ninety percent of business (at the outlet mall) comes from people in other communities. People don’t realize how important it is that we get business from our community.”
Broussard, who wrote down all of the issues stated during the forum, agreed that the community’s support of the mall was vital, but that the issue of whether the mall is serving the needs of the community also needed to be addressed.
Jaqueline Green, Council on Aging executive director, said her biggest issue with the town is that there isn’t a senior center.
“There is no facility in Iowa. We need a place for seniors to do their activities like ceramics, art class, exercising,” she said. “They need their own facility where they can facilitate the activities they need, and where a hot meal can be provided to the elderly that need that service.”
Several other members in the audience echoed Green’s initiative to have a senior center in the community.
Ponthieux said a “major issue” is the town’s sewer system.
“Any time it rains more than an inch, some people have sewage backing up into their homes, and that’s a huge concern,” she said. “As we add more to our systems, it puts more stress on them.”
Broussard said more forums, which haven’t been announced yet, will follow to continue discussing concerns and that officials would then begin formulating a plan.
Find the article at AmericanPress.com: http://www.americanpress.com/Iowa-Town-Council-hosts-Visioning-Forum