Moving Acadiana Forward: New Iberia’s master plan includes doubling down on its history to draw tourists

Moving Acadiana Forward

NEW IBERIA, La. (KLFY) — The City of New Iberia has big revitalization plans in the works. The mayor hopes these projects keep citizens in the city, attract tourism, and new businesses.

“New Iberia is a unique community, we are very diverse with a lot of history. We were founded in 1779 so why not exploit that, why not play on that, why not get more visitors here, and why not make it more attractive for people that live here,” says Mayor Freddie DeCourt. He recently unveiled two master plans one focusing on the districts in the city and another focused on the historic district of Downtown New Iberia.

“Downtown is your flagship. If they don’t come to your downtown they are probably not coming to the rest of your town,” he explains. Bayou Teche is 125 miles long and runs through the heart of downtown. “It ties all of our communities together. We started thinking about recreation opportunities so we have grants now that have been approved, and some of the construction has started which is exciting. We have a kayak dock coming, we have marinas behind City Hall, marinas behind George Rodrick park.”

The city has secured $10 million in grants for these projects and the mayor says they are looking for more. “All of these projects in this district study are based on a really simple premise. The city owns the property, we have a schematic budget, we have a schematic design, and we have the match. If we don’t have those four things we don’t go after it. The historic district is very important but certainly, the rest of our town is important. So that gives us about 90 projects that are spread out throughout all of the six districts plus the projects that are in the historic district. If there’s a great out there that you don’t like one that I apply for, well I’ll send you something else but that is what is making this work,” says DeCourt.

The City of New Iberia has over 90 projects in the works throughout its six districts.

“If you want to live here and you don’t want to leave, I have to give you some reason to be excited. I have to give you some improvement or something that you can see our community is on the move,” says DeCourt.

The city has a population of just under 30,000. The mayor says the goal of each project is to enhance quality of life for residents. Some projects will be concentrated in the city’s parks and adding recreation activities for kids.

DeCourt says, “If you look at simple things where do we have sidewalks. The city hasn’t put in new sidewalks in about 10 or 15 years, so where do we need new sidewalks where do we need new curbing. Way finding signage, if you are cruising down Pershing Street or Ann Street you should know your New Iberia. Branding our community is very important. “

The city has worked to secure grants for many of these projects. “We’ve been fortunate to put money aside and think with the money that we have received. We just put $800,000 aside for a grant matches that will give us a grant value of 20% of 4.25 million. Those are the kinds of things that you planned. We definitely know we need to get to our roads and we have been slowly packing and improving our finances so we can start a road program again. I think that will happen at the end of next year,” says the Mayor.

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