2018 marks not only the 300th anniversary of the founding of New Orleans, but also the year Asakura Robinson begins working in the lesser known, yet bustling neighboring community: Jefferson Parish. Named for the nation’s third president and Louisiana Purchaser, the Parish grew rapidly during the nation’s wave of post-WWII suburbanization, and is today home to the largest number of residents and jobs in the New Orleans metropolitan area.
In several planning and design initiatives this year, our New Orleans office is applying its expertise in retrofitting suburban environments into healthy and sustainable 21st century communities. First up: a major update to Envision Jefferson 2020, the Parish’s fifteen-year-old Comprehensive Plan.
In southeast Louisiana, to survive – and to thrive – depends on adapting to the growing threats of rising sea levels and vanishing wetlands. Over half of Jefferson Parish is water, with the Gulf of Mexico at the south and brackish Lake Pontchartrain to the north. The update to the comprehensive plan is an opportunity to adapt to these hazards, from expanding green infrastructure systems to hardening homes and critical public facilities.
Next, Jefferson Transit (JeT) is undertaking a strategic plan to better connect residents to opportunities in the metropolitan area. Like many predominantly suburban communities, Jefferson Parish is largely automobile-oriented, yet JeT moves 2 million passengers a year, providing daily service from bedroom communities to job centers on both sides of the Mississippi River, including downtown New Orleans. We are helping JeT convey the planning process to the public, get meaningful feedback from riders on new ideas to improve JeT’s fixed-route bus service, and explore the feasibility of innovative strategies to make transit a convenient way to move about the parish and region.
This year we are also looking closely at an opportunity to better orient a residential neighborhood to one of the parish’s feature public spaces – Lafreniere Park. The park draws visitors from throughout the region, yet surrounding development is not designed to take advantage of its proximity to the valuable amenity. We will be working with the Planning Department to consider regulatory reforms and public investments that would allow the surrounding neighborhood to gain the most from the park.
Finally, we’re working with Ochsner, Louisiana’s top ranked hospital, to design the landscape for the Ochsner Center for Innovation, part of a $360 million expansion of the hospital’s campus in Old Jefferson.
We are excited to partner with leading engineers and architects on these assignments – Digital Engineering, Burk Kleinpeter Inc. and Trahan Architects. We can’t wait to share the results of these forward-looking projects that will make Jefferson Parish a more livable, resilient and equitable community.