The City of Covington is launching a project to plan a network of sidewalks, paddle and shared-use recreational trails, thanks to being selected by the National Park Service Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program for technical assistance.
The federal agency will offer the city technical support as it launches “Covington Community Trails: Greenways and Blueways,” a planning project that will result in a conceptual design of non-motorized routes in and around the city. The project will take about a year to complete, and shall be implemented in stages using a strategy that incorporates grant funding and traditional sources of city revenue, along with public and private partnerships.
One key feature of the design will be a paddle trail approximately five miles in length along the Bogue Falaya and Tchefuncte Rivers which border the southern portion of the city. With the main launching hub at Bogue Falaya Park, paddlers will be able to disembark from their kayaks, canoes and paddleboards to take advantage of the city’s array of commercial, cultural and recreational venues including four municipal parks, the downtown historic district, St. Tammany Trace, and the Covington Trailhead Museum and Cultural Arts and Events Center. Access to these attractions will be further enhanced by approximately ten miles of interconnected sidewalks and shared-use trails that may be used for bicycling, skating and jogging. These non-motorized routes will tie into city neighborhoods, thereby making walking and bicycling an easier and more pleasant means of recreation and transportation for residents and visitors alike.
As the plan is implemented, the City anticipates four positive outcomes: increased recreational opportunities for citizens; spurred economic growth; improved conservation practices; and a strengthened sense of community and civic pride. Ultimately, the plan will incorporate initiatives encouraged by the federal advocacy group, Smart Growth America, and the National Complete Streets Coalition. These initiatives include creating walkable neighborhoods, providing a variety of transportation choices, improving the capacity and efficiency of local roads, and preserving natural beauty and critical environmental areas. By following “smart growth” principles, the plan will ultimately provide more options for how people can navigate the City of Covington, and support businesses and jobs in the process.
“I am delighted that the National Park Service has chosen to work with the City of Covington through the Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program,” said Covington Mayor Mike Cooper. “By lending their expertise and support to this project, they are helping us move forward in our goal to increase recreational opportunities and become a more connected, pedestrian-friendly city.”
Input from local residents and prospective stakeholders will be an integral part of the planning process, accomplished in part through a series of public meetings. The first meeting is on Thursday, December 4, at 6 p.m. at the Covington City Council Chambers, 222 E. Kirkland St. The public is invited to attend. Additionally, National Park Service representatives are available to meet one-on-one with civic, recreational and professional organizations that wish to contribute ideas, obtain more information, or get involved in the project.
“We (RTCA) take the input of the residents of Covington very seriously when developing a plan that is intended to reflect that which they hope to see in the community,” said RTCA Louisiana Project Coordinator Stacye Palmer-McBride.
“Public input is essential to help shape recreational amenities that can be enjoyed by all Covington citizens in the future,” said Covington Planning and Zoning Director Nahketah Bagby, “These amenities will increase the ability for citizens to make active, healthy lifestyle choices and enhance quality of life in Covington.”
The project is being stewarded by a committee of federal and city employees that includes Palmer-McBride and Bagby, along with RTCA Program Manager Deirdre Hewitt, National Park Service Community Assistance Fellow Sofia Lopez, City Engineer Daniel Hill, Cultural Arts and Events Manager Aimee Faucheux, Executive Assistant to the Mayor for Special Projects Pam Keller, GIS Analyst Chad Whaley, Grants Administrator Kelli Moore, and Keep Covington Beautiful Executive Director Priscilla Floca.
To schedule a one-on-one meeting or obtain more information about Covington Community Trails: Greenways and Blueways, email Stacye Palmer-McBride at email@example.com or call Kelli Moore at (985) 898-4717.