State of the City
Mandeville…….How far we have come since Bernard de Marigny’s vision of building a prosperous new town on the north shore in 1834! In those days the City was concentrated along the banks of Lake Pontchartrain with a unique collection of homes used as summer retreats. Unfortunately, the City soon experienced unwanted change with the depression and Civil War. But not even war could destroy the tranquility and beauty Mandeville offered. At the turn of the century, the City revived. People came to live here seeking solace and community. Our City has been built on that foundation
As Mayor, my job is to build on that foundation and continue that vision: preserving the quality of life we know and passing it on to a future generation. Our resources of natural beauty, a bountiful lake, lush canopy of live oaks, magnolias and towering pines abound and must be maintained. We continue to follow the direction my Administration set in 2010 to maintain public safety, improve cultural and economic means, update planning and zoning, maintain excellent infrastructure, improve transparency and beautify our City.
Beautification has been an ongoing project. We have upgraded our entrances, added arbors and swings on our lakefront and planted trees and flowering bushes in many areas. We will soon begin replanting Girod Street from Monroe to the Lake. This will include removing old pavers and replacing them with a brick course, removing outdated plant material, planting new and repairing any irrigation issues.
New construction has continued. We recently erected our new water tower on Rapatel Street which will give added water pressure to the east side of the City as well as provide safe drinking water and increased fire protection. As with all of our capital projects, we use grants as much as possible in order to save taxpayer money. Since I have been elected, we have applied for and received over $5 million in federal and state grants, which have been used to enhance and provide for City needs. This resource has allowed us to maintain our financial strength and I am proud to say that today we are in a great position. Our residents were returned sales tax dollars by way of reduced property taxes and our employees received a much needed pay raise.
As the gateway to the North Shore, we have faced steadily increasing traffic over the last six decades. Mandeville has led the Regional Planning Commission, the Causeway and St. Tammany Parish in preparing a traffic study for this purpose. Widening highways has helped to increase intercity flow as we have seen with Hwy 190. In March of 2016 we will bid a similar widening of Hwy 22 from Dalwill Drive to Northlake Shopping Center and are currently in engineering design for the intersection of Hwy 22 and Hwy 190. We have replaced traffic signalization at the intersection of N. Causeway and Monroe Street and added pedestrian crossing. This intersection is a key connection of the citywide bicycle/pedestrian path to east and west Mandeville.
More traffic brings more people and safety issues; however our Mandeville residents continue to enjoy fast response to calls and the coveted rectitude of low crime. Current stats show over 14,000 calls were made to our police department last year with the majority being medical issues and traffic violations. Public safety is our number one priority. Our police are dedicated and committed to maintaining our peace of mind and the quality of life we cherish.
Despite the growth in population in our City and Parish, we continue to build cautiously and wisely. The City follows low density impact on residential and commercial establishments and landscaping guidelines. Our biggest project under review that will add new dimension and growth is Port Marigny. This is the development of the property known as "Pre-Stressed” where concrete spans were constructed for the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway Bridge in the ’50 and ‘60’s. A Master Plan has been submitted by the owner to develop it as a Traditional Neighborhood Development, complete with homes, restaurants, a hotel and apartment complexes. It is currently being reviewed by our Planning and Zoning Commission and a recommendation will be made to go before the Council.
Attracting such development goes hand in hand with the increase of economic development and cultural arts in our City. In 2010, we hired Alia Casborné to direct both of those departments and she has worked to increase and brand our identity as a place that values arts, culture and community. We continue to build strategies by working closely with the St. Tammany Economic Development Foundation to proactively target markets and industries for relocation to the City while facilitating retention and growth opportunities for existing businesses. We have seen the economy shift from the waterfront inward to what is now the B3 area centered from Carroll to Girod and Monroe to the lake. In recent years like many other cities, the economic center spread to its outer edge. Hwy 190 anchored by the Sterling Shopping Center and Kmart is now the center of population inside and outside of the city.
Success has been seen with the addition of national chains such as Home Goods and Whole Foods. Local companies are opening new locations such as Pat Gallagher’s 527 Restaurant, SWEG’s and Aquistapace’s Wine and Cheese. Our local restaurants are partnering with St. Tammany Parish Hospital Wellness Center to participate in "Fit Northshore” a program to educate and guide patrons to eating healthy. We have also revitalized our Community Gardens.
Local, state and federal grants are researched and applied for in this area as well to aid in holding cultural season events such as spring and fall free concerts, the Louisiana Philharmonic, Mandeville Octoberfeast, Winter on the Water, the Christmas parade and the fourth of July event complete with fireworks. The newly created Mandeville A.R.T. Collaborative was formed as a result of the City’s participation in the Louisiana Creative Communities and helped to promote local businesses. We have maintained cooperative endeavor agreements with Pelican Park to provide art & leisure activities, and the St. Tammany Art Association to provide summer art & theater camps both held at the Trailhead.
At home at City hall, since 2010 when I was first elected, we have greatly increased communication and transparency regaining trust with our citizens. A new web site, greater amount of information and outbound e-mail communication give citizens up to date information on civic, cultural and event activity. Our employees are extremely professional in identifying care needed on all calls and treating people with respect. Administration is being reorganized with time to evaluate needs and provide expert service and response.
The bottom line is that we have continued progress and improvements in our City, while maintaining and fostering the solace and sense of community that our founder began. I believe our growth in infrastructure, culture and economic development would make him proud; as proud as every citizen that lives here. We have a lot to be thankful for in Mandeville. No wonder it’s the best place to live at any age.
Our future is bright. We will continue to improve by long range planning for infrastructure and studies to forecast traffic requirements and solutions for the next 10-20 years. We will continue focus on maintaining the history and culture of our city, keeping in mind, "It’s all about Community”!