Hurricane Katrina

The conceptual D'Iberville

D'IBERVILLE - Attempting to translate community wishes into design concepts, charrette designers presented ideas to residents Wednesday night that could transform potential commercial development into opportunity for the whole city.

Urban designers Jaime Correa and Seth Harry presented conceptual designs that maintained public access to the waterfront, expanded town greens and created a French market and some neighborhood centers with mixed-use.

"Don't just believe with your eyes. Believe with your heart and your intuition," said Correa, a Miami-based designer who led the design team for D'Iberville this week and during last fall's Renewal Forum.

The team also focused on how regional retailers like local businesses and potential casino waterfront development could benefit each other by connecting them with walkable areas and more-defined traffic routes.

Before the refined design concepts were presented to the community, Bob Landry, an amateur local historian and retired community planner, addressed the audience in costume as explorer Pierre LeMoyne D'Iberville.

"I leave you my legacy. I leave you my spirit. You have good charts and good plans, use them wisely," Landry said.

The conceptual designs have not been approved by the City Council, but they could eventually be included in a comprehensive master plan that would guide commercial development and some city projects. Designers will work today and Friday to develop city codes that can be used to implement the concepts.

Al Stephens and his wife, Bobbie, D'Iberville property owners who participated in the public workshop Saturday, returned for the final presentation. They said the design concepts presented can enhance the city's special niche on the Coast.

"I think D'Iberville has the potential to turn into some place wonderful and exciting," Bobbie said.

"A lot of good things that people think about the Coast can be embodied in D'Iberville if we can stick to our guns," Al said.

Several residents said after the presentation that while they liked the design concepts, they want to make sure that small, local cemeteries are preserved and destroyed historical sites commemorated. Others wanted to see the old core of the city, which was between the bay and Five Points, presented as it was as old country-style storefronts and trading posts.

"I can't criticize anything," said Dale Greenwell, a longtime D'Iberville resident who is helping to create the city's historical society. "I just hope that the core of historical D'Iberville can somehow be preserved to reflect history."

Other residents said in the past the city's hopes have been dashed by failed attempts to develop the waterfront. When work starts on the waterfront is when they will believe the design concepts will be come a reality.

"It would probably be nice if it happened, but I just don't see it happening," said Daniel Mullens, who lives on Seventh Street. "Something will block it. It has happened every time."


Quincy Collins Smith can be reached at 896-2393 or at qcsmith@sunherald.com
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