It’s easy to compare Baton Rouge to larger cities, envying what we don’t have. But instead of wishing we were elsewhere, doesn’t it make more sense to focus on improving the city we call home?
Baton Rouge is changing fast. Sometimes, all it takes to kickstart a project is one person vocalizing a unique idea. After all, we’re already home to trendy mixed-use developments boasting hip apartments, bowling alleys and food halls; a bike-share program; makers markets; vibrant street art and high-rise housing with rooftop pools.
We asked local leaders to share visions for the Red Stick. We hope their answers inspire you to keep dreaming big, too.
Editor’s note: Answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.
“I would love to see Baton Rouge connect all parts of town with an integrated bicycle network that utilizes roadways, drainage corridors and parks.”
— Justin Lemoine Director of implementation at the Center for Planning Excellence; Co-founder of the Mid City Makers Market
“I can picture a Baton Rouge that has an incredibly increased level of walkability and bikeability due to connected, properly maintained and well-lit walking and biking paths, independent of the vehicle roadways.”
— Jay Ducote President of Jay Ducote Hospitality Group
“In the greatest future I can imagine, the city will increase funding and support for artists. A hopeful start is the new home [planned at the Triangle Building] for the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge and the organization’s vibrant CEO, Renee Chatelain.”
— Ann Connelly Founder of Ann Connelly Fine Art
“I’d like to start an oyster shell recycling program. Instead of throwing away millions of oyster shells, they should be used to combat coastal erosion.”
— Chris Motto Executive chef at Mansurs on the Boulevard; Hell’s Kitchen alum
“I’d love to see creative adult recreation amenities in different pockets of the city. Things like a swimming pool in downtown Baton Rouge (think SoHo House), or sand volleyball, basketball or tennis courts.”
— Courtney M. Scott Chief service officer, Office of the Mayor
“I would love to see the city have a comprehensive system of bike lanes and paths that make cycling safer.”
— Adonica Pelichet Duggan Executive director of external affairs, New Schools for Baton Rouge
“I’d love to see businesses and public facilities such as libraries and airports hosting adoptable pets in their lobbies. Pets would wear vests that say ‘adopt me!’ This has been done in other major cities with great success.”
— Laurie Schulenberg Vice president of patient care services of Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital
“I’d like to see an artist co-op that gives artists access to a woodshop, printing equipment, etc. Something that people could rent out.”
— Brad Jensen Graphic designer (and illustrator of this month’s 225 cover)
“Years ago, the Samuel Clemens riverboat would take guests on a dinner cruise along the Mississippi River to experience it from a different perspective. It would be great to see daily riverboat excursions come back. It’s time to reconnect ourselves to the river.”
— Davis Rhorer Executive director of Downtown Development District
“It would be great for Baton Rouge to have artistically enhanced wayfinding signs and painted crosswalks to identify all areas of the city. Think NYC’s Highline. We could repurpose unused tracks, roadways and bike paths and use creative art installations to brand our neighborhoods while connecting users to historic stops and amenities.”
— Renee Chatelain President/CEO of the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge
“Electric cars are inevitable. Prices are dropping. They don’t produce greenhouse emissions and are fun to drive. In its reworking of parking downtown, local government might consider electric chargers at every space.”
— John Davies CEO and president of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation
“I’d love to see a jazz club downtown that features regional and national artists.”
— Murphy Paul Chief of Baton Rouge Police Department
“I look forward to more mixed-use retail spaces across the parish, with entertainment, live music and outdoor eateries.”
— Makesha Judson Director of special projects and legislative liaison at Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services
“I’m looking forward to when we’ll greet 20,000 students on Southern University’s flagship campus. With this population influx, and community and economic development, Scotlandville will once again be a bustling area.”
— Ray L. Belton, Ph.D. President, Southern University System
“My dream has been for young kids to learn the value of a colorful plate. I would love for schools around Baton Rouge to teach nutrition by only allowing kids to use crayons that match the colors on their plate. A more colorful plate means a more exciting picture!”
— Holly Clegg Author and healthy cooking expert
“Better transportation, such as finally constructing the rail between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Whatever it takes to reduce commuting time.”
— Kenny Nguyen CEO/Co-Founder of ThreeSixtyEight
“This idea is crazy only because it’s crazy we don’t have it already: sidewalks on Highland Road after College Town!”
— Steve Strohschein Chair of the BREADA board of directors; Member of McGlinchey Stafford PLLC
“Cities like Orlando, Chicago and D.C. all have Ferris wheels that are a huge part of their city landscape. I’d love to see a Ferris wheel or attraction that would get people downtown.”
— Jessica Trepagnier President of Forum 35; Marketing and community development director of Aetna Better Health of Louisiana
“I want to see Baton Rouge create the resources necessary to enable all students access to higher education.”
—F. King Alexander President, Louisiana State University
This article was originally published in the November 2019 issue of 225 Magazine.
Click here to see more stories from our Imagining the Future cover story.