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Democratic Mayors Lead Alexandria, Lake Charles Renewal Efforts

‘THINKAlex’ initiative will produce resilient city

ALEXANDRIA — Central Louisiana’s largest city has launched a unique, citywide campaign that aims to provide the tools and direction to set Alexandria on an upward trajectory as it moves further into the 21st Century.

Alexandria Mayor Jacques Roy

Alexandria Mayor Jacques Roy

THINKAlex was launched on June 5 by Mayor Jacques Roy who calls it “a bold and innovative community-driven initiative focusing on the development of effective long-term strategies and solutions for transportation, land use, housing, zoning, and a revision of the municipal development code.”

“Following the England Air Force Base closure, the Alexandria community pulled together, demonstrating a fierce resiliency. Among other smart moves, the community created a plan, Alexandria 2010, to bring Alexandria into the 21st century,” said Mayor Roy. “Now is the time to map out a course of action with proven 21st century solutions.”

The project involves a four-round cycle of neighborhood meetings, each of which is followed by a citywide meeting. The first round of neighborhood meetings was completed in June. The first citywide meeting will take place on August 23.

The resulting plan will move toward implementation after the final round of meetings in August 2013.

Many mid-sized cities across the country are struggling to find their footing in a rapidly changing economy. Alexandria is no stranger to change, but with the strong leadership demonstrated by Mayor Roy in conceptualizing and executing THINKAlex, the city and the region are committed to positioning themselves to succeed as the rest of the century unfolds.

Downtown redevelopment drives post-Rita Lake Charles

LAKE CHARLES — All of the attention justifiably focused on the recovery of New Orleans and its metropolitan area in the wake of the damage inflicted by Hurricane Katrina and the failure of levees in the city sometimes obscures the post-Hurricane Ritarecovery efforts in Southwest Louisiana.

Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach

Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach

Rita slammed Southwest Louisiana on September 24, 2005, less than a month after Katrina hit the southeastern part of the state. And, while the cost in lives was far lower than was the case with Katrina, the devastation to Calcasieu, Cameron and neighboring parishes was every bit as dramatic.

There’s an old saying that crisis contains both danger and opportunity. Lake Charles, under the leadership of Mayor Randy Roach, has used the crisis that Rita inflicted on it to rethink the city’s relationship to the lake that gives the city its name and the downtown area that was struggling even before the storm struck.

The roots of Lake Charles’ downtown and lakefront revival date back to 2007, when the city was still reeling from Rita, when Mayor Roach convinced voters to back an aggressive redevelopment plan. The success of that election paved the way for what is now the Lakefront Downtown Action Plan that includes the rebuilding of Ryan Street, the creation of new historic districts in adjacent neighborhoods, and an assortment of projects designed to enhance residents access to the lake and its white sand beaches.

Drive through downtown Lake Charles and the signs of progress are everywhere.

It’s the kind of leadership Lake Charles residents have come to almost take for granted from Mayor Roach, who was elected to the post in 2000 after having served two terms in the Louisiana House of Representatives.

Mayor Roach has provided Lake Charles the kind of steady leadership a community recovering from a disaster needs. Lake Charles’ post-Rita rebound is a clear reflection of their persistent, dedicated, level-headed mayor.

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Originally published: July 27, 2012