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Fellow Blogger Spanky: Solutions to Alexandria's Growing Pains (Credit: Spanky, Originally from Cenla Antics) Spanky said...

I am sure Jacques will fully and eloquently explain his vision of urban condensation which more than likely parallels what I have been screaming. As Alexandria has grown, areas develop, age, and then blight, leaving in the blighted areas, the lower income folks, and abandoned properties that compound the problems of crime, property devaluation, fire safety, infrastructure maintenance, utilities, and sanitation, as the city cannot just choose to stop providing services in the city limits.

We do not have population increase, therefore we are consuming increasingly greater land mass to support the same number of people, while placing increased demand on all city functions over a greater area.

The natural solution would appear to be fair application of zoning and code enforcement to maintain the quality of the older neighborhoods and in the event of large scale degradation, mass demolition, and re-use of the area for re-development thereby providing for infill renewal.

One way to accomplish this would be to establish radius zones centered from the downtown area extending outward in bands gradiated to population levels and not to be expanded until the population levels are achieved.

City services would not be allowed to be extended beyond these boundaries, therefore providing economic and aesthetic incentive to look to the center to revitalize large blighted areas. While it may appear initially cost prohibitive, it may be less expensive to buy out, demolish, and redevelop older parts of town, if done on a large enough scale to retain infrastucture and condense the need for service extension.

While this may appear ludicrous on the surface, look at the areas bounded by Texas, Monroe, Rapides, and Bolton. There are approximately 2,000 addresses in that part of town that are rapidly degrading. Is it really so far fetched to believe that large numbers of dilapidated houses could be purchased for 15K a piece, reducing the lot ratio 2-1 and selling a lot for 50K thereby attracting upscale homes?

Sounds crazy until you realize that the police force would not be stretched so thin if they had less area to patrol and could focus on reducing and controlling crime in selected pockets, making them safer and more attractive. The rest is cosmetic. Once there is a base of similarly priced homes in an area, value will be supported for further development.

The main reason new development has gravitated to Jackson Street Extension and beyond has been the issue of perceived personal and property safety, combined with the ability to build modern, large, energy efficient structures. Provide those same conditions to empty lots in formerly blighted areas, and I feel people will chose to move closer to the center over time. Especially if Alexandria refuses to extend services beyond established population bands. If you don't think that is an incentive, then price what it takes to place a house in the country. These are estimates so use your knowledge of current pricing to adjust. 1. 3-6k for an acceptable sewerage treatment plant. 2. 5K for a well 3. $600. per pole to access nearest electricity 4. Driveway connection to nearest road. 5. Increased homeowners insurance due to reduced fire rating. One thing is certain, and that is that the city as an organization cannot continue to expand with the attending maintenance and static tax base and boost livability standards to attract population whether it is through retention of our youth or influx.

This is my town, I love it, but I can speak the truth and that is that we have had population loss from a peak of 58,000 in the mid '80's to our current 46,000.

The first step is to realize this single truth indicates decline, not growth and the folks that are talking about blue sky had better wise up and look at doing things differently or pay the price.