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Residents Gather for Plan - Tuesday, August 10, 2004
Acadia Plantation, the 3,000-plus-acre property once home to three sugarcane plantations and one of the few remaining areas available for development near Thibodaux, will someday provide a throwback to a more idyllic time where neighbors socialized on front porches, walked to the corner grocery and could send their children down the block to school.

That’s the plan according to planners of the first phase of the development, bought by Thibodaux businessmen Ronald Adams and Jacob Giardina in October for $9.5 million.

Intentions for the land were presented Monday night to several hundred invited members of the public at Nicholls State University, part of a five-day conversation planning session to involve community members in a more detailed development plan, scheduled for release Saturday.
Preliminary plans call for a mixed-use “village” of residential and commercial properties interspersed with public gathering spaces and possible schools and museums.

Steve Oubre of Architects Southwest, the design firm behind Lafayette’s Village of River Ranch and hired for the Acadia Plantation project, cited what he referred to as an “erosion of community planning over the course of the last 150 years” that has served as the impetus for urban sprawl and the resulting metropolises of Atlanta, Houston and Phoenix -- cities, he noted, once not much larger than Thibodaux.

“ We’ve lost the value of community,” he told the crowd. “… The model we are using,” he continued, that encourages reliance on wide roads that fracture neighborhoods, leaves few opportunities for pedestrians and helps spawn an abundance of architecturally insensitive big-box stores, “is broken.”

But whereas today’s model of suburban development segregates businesses, residences, parks and people, to the detriment of public health and the decline of an old neighborhood aesthetic, the Acadia Plantation development will integrate all the components of community life, Oubre said.

Flashing slides of neighborhoods like the French Quarter and Old Town Alexandria, Va., the architect called these places prime examples of mixed-use, community-oriented design.
Ironically, he said, traditional neighborhoods such as these are largely discouraged by present-day building codes.

By Emilie Bahr - Staff Writer
The Daily Comet - 12:00AM


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