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Opelousas residents share thoughts on Downtown plans

The last event in a series of four aiming to get public input.
Opelousas Square
Posted at 10:48 PM, May 15, 2021

OPELOUSAS, La. — People in Opelousas had a chance to voice their opinion and concerns about how the city’s downtown looks in the future.

It was the last event in a series of four, in hopes of letting the public see the progress of the plan, and get their feedback at every step.

The event was organized by the city’s Downtown Development District, in partnership with the city, the Center for Planning Excellence, and the parish’s Economic Development.

The CEO of St. Landry Economic Development, Bill Rodier says the point of the gathering was to wrap up a conversation between the public and officials in regards to the Opelousas downtown area, and where it goes from here.

“It’s been going on for a while,” said Rodier. “It’s been going on for about 18 months. So, this is kind of the culmination of all the work that’s been done up until now for the past 18 months of what the future of downtown Opelousas could and should look like.”

He says Opelousas is everyone’s city, and public input is crucial. They have both short and long-term goals for the project – and they have already made some changes.

“We have already changed all the lighting out downtown to the highest-grade LEDs that are available with that,” said Rodier.

Lena Charles, a chairperson for the Opelousas Downtown Development District says this is a step in the right direction.

“This is big for Opelousas today, that we have a master plan that we can look forward to for our future,” said Charles.

Shauna Cias is a nurse and Opelousas resident. She says it should be the norm for people to have a voice in their communities.

“We live here... So, public input from those persons that are directly affected is not a suggestion, that should be an absolute certainty, because it affects us,” she said.

She’s happy they’re having events like these -- and suggests more security, internet access, and green spaces downtown.

“We’ve come into a sedentary lifestyle, so we need more for children and families to do,” she added. “The plan is a great template; I just think it needs a lot of work.”

Some attendees tell KATC they have seen progress like this in the past, but then the whole project gets put on the shelf. They’re hoping, this time around, it’s different and they can see changes in downtown.

People that came to the event were encouraged to fill out cards with comments. They will be used by downtown developers to see what the people want, even including the name of the project.

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