Mandeville has developed a plan to strategically locate key elements of its civic downtown to promote community character and build economic vitality, while reducing its vulnerability to flooding.
The City of Mandeville, located on the North Shore of Lake Ponchartrain, faces considerable threats from flooding and storm surge during tropical storms. The community cherishes their lakefront location and views, and does not want to sacrifice these for the protection provided by levees or a sea wall. Nevertheless, they recognize the risk of flooding, increasing risks as sea levels rise, and the significant damage the community experienced during Hurricanes Katrina (2005) and Isaac (2012). Hazard mitigation grants funded most affected homes to be raised in the aftermath of those two storms. However, a larger, coordinated effort to address the civic needs of the community and the Town Center as a whole was needed.
The Old Mandeville Town Plan builds on the efforts and recommendations of the city’s 2007 Comprehensive Plan, a 2007 small area plan, and a 2006 redevelopment plan for the city, which all “emphasized the critical need for a Town Center that will locate civic institutions within a mixed-use, walkable and economically thriving area.” In determining the best location for a Town Center, the town paired the needs of economic opportunity, proximity to the highway, and existing infrastructure, with safety from flood and wind hazards from tropical storms.
Resilience Planning in Action
The Old Mandeville Town Center Plan outlines an approach for ensuring the Old Town Center is resilient. It focuses on the related issues of economy, character, and disaster mitigation, which are all intertwined in ensuring a sustainable and resilient community.
The local environment and environmental risks plays an important role in choosing a location and appropriate interventions for different projects within the Old Mandeville Town Center Plan. Although environmental concerns are not presented in the beginning of the plan as the predominant priority, the weight of these concerns becomes evident in the details of the plan.
- The plan directs new and targeted investment to areas of the city that are naturally least vulnerable to the flood, surge, and wind impacts of tropical storms.
- The plan considers not only existing threats from natural hazards, but how these will change in the future – and how the city should prepare for them. Specifically, Mandeville is integrating future projections over two main concerns. The first is rising sea levels – and how that will exacerbate flood and surge probabilities off Lake Ponchartrain. The second concern addresses disappearing wetlands along Louisiana’s southern coast – and how that will allow for an increased number and intensity of tropical storms and hurricanes to impact Mandeville.
Infrastructure investments are recommended to align with the concerns and priorities for the community character, economy, and environmental risk facing the City of Mandeville.
The plan looks to strengthen the local economy with particular focus on the character of the Mandeville community.
- The creation of a Mandeville Pattern Book provides guidance for both design and resiliency in promoting the local character. It also draws on the “Louisiana Speaks” Plan – in encouraging smarter growth and specific elements of Louisiana architecture.
- The focus of economic growth is based in realistic expectations of what the city has to offer and its relationship within the region.
- The creation of an Economic Resiliency Study looked at both short-term and long-term resilience.
The next steps are plainly outlined in the Old Mandeville Town Center Plan. Furthermore, it identifies and explains priorities and the time-sensitiveness of different projects and initiatives outlined in the plan. This provides the city with a clear set of actions to move forward in a way that ensures the plan will be realized, and the citizens with great transparency about the workings of their local government.
- The plan encourages the city enact 6-month building moratoria, to resolve preliminary negotiations related to the Town Center project.
- The city’s available street-building funds are recommended to fund the traffic circles, as part of the Gateway Project.
- A special use district for the downtown is encouraged to be incorporated into the local zoning ordinance, as a way to allow for more density and diversity of uses there.
- The Town Center Project is presented as a priority as it concerns many properties which are considered in transition – both for economic reasons as well as due to storm impacts. The city sees it as an urgent priority to not lose this opportunity to direct development in the desired way.
The specific tasks and responsibilities required of a yet-to-be hired consultant are clearly laid out in the plan, to ensure that specific local issues are considered and incorporated into his/her work.