Date: September 17 – 22, 2006
Location: Bayou La Batre, AL
Sponsor: City of Bayou La Batre
Chair: Smedes York
Subject Area: Disaster Response, Economic Development, Sustainable Development
Summary of Recommendations:
The Advisory Services panel was invited by the city of Bayou La Batre, Alabama to evaluate redevelopment opportunities in areas damaged by Hurricane Katrina and to provide guidance on rebuilding housing and commercial activities. The panel’s vision for the community was for it to become a sustainable working waterfront village. It also challenged the community to strive to become an economically durable district with the development of an ecotourism market.
Ecotourism provided an opportunity for the community to use its roots and natural surroundings as tools for economic development. Within Bayou La Batre, the panel designated three locations that had the greatest potential to serve as catalysts for future development and be core planning areas. These included the Civic Center, Old Town Center and Lighting Point. A new library, sports complex, and the Lighthouse Restaurant would make up the revitalized Civic Center. The Old Town Center needed to go back to being the “heart” of the community as it was before Katrina, with a new pedestrian plaza and waterfront lined with seafood markets and other small shops. Lighting Point would be the location of new housing built around the public marina and also the position of the new ecotourism resort. The panel gave some suggestions to the city in three main categories (governance, institutional capacity, and development) to help guide them through the redevelopment process. The panel was surprised at what a vibrant community Bayou La Batre turned out to be, and believed that this vision for a renewed city was representative of the dreams and desires of its residents.