Several years ago when The Alliance was planning for the coming year, the incoming board chair, Ken Broussard, suggested a need to work on the quality of life in our area.
After board members recanted several stories of failed attempts to attract new professionals to our area and several stories about newcomers who had moved away, The Chamber SWLA created our Quality of Life Task Force. Its purpose is to address various issues such as the appearance of our area, better sidewalks and complete streets, parks - including dog parks - and other amenities.
The purpose is twofold. First, to provide enjoyment to our residents. Improvements such as Prien Lake Park and the Ward Three Recreation projects in Lake Charles to name a couple, all add to a better quality of life for our residents.
One of the newest amenities, Maplewood Commons, developed by Sulphur Parks and Recreation (SPAR) is located between the existing Center Circle Park and Maplewood Middle School and Maplewood Elementary. Among the features of the park include a traditional center rounded water fountain and a unique rock wall fountain located in the eastern back of the park, connected by walking paths that surround the park. There is also a Little Library station donated by the Calcasieu Parish Library system alongside a Japanese Maple Tree donated and planted by the Sulphur Sunrise Rotary Club. There are many more new parks and recreational facilities in our five-parish area.
These amenities are necessary to attract and keep newcomers to our region. Keeping our young people in the area is great for our families and will help to provide talent or workforce to fill the expected 18,000 permanent jobs being created by industrial growth.
One obstacle to our area is the large amount of litter. The Alliance and local organizations, including law enforcement agencies, have begun meeting to better solve and coordinate our litter issues. We all have a responsibility to contain debris and keep it from blowing out from trucks and cars.
Intentionally discarding trash in parking lots and along our streets and highways is costing us tax money to clean up and gives a negative impression that we don’t care about our area. If we all do our part we can save thousands of tax dollars that could be used elsewhere.
To confirm that quality of life is important to our residents, the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury recently conducted a public survey as part of their strategic planning initiative. The Police Jury had an all-day workshop to review the public input and set priorities for the future. In addition to drainage and infrastructure, litter and quality of life issues top the list. In announcing the priorities, Parish Administrator Bryan Beam said in an article in the American Press, that residents are more concerned about quality of life than they were several years ago. Quoting Beam, “you have basics like good schools and public safety, but there are also more people saying they want to see public spaces developed, whether it’s outdoors (or) hosting public events. There’s also curb appeal.”
Beam said residents also talked about litter. Having attention drawn to the litter problem as a priority will put more of a focus on enforcing litter laws and educating residents.
Solutions to our quality of life issues are a positive for our region now and for future generations. It’s time and money well spent.