Regan Contois Candidate Bio


 

Why do you want to be an Alderman in Abita Springs?

To lend my planning skills towards facilitating a long range vision and development of a Master Plan, solidly based in community consensus, to be used as a tool to guide our town as it grows.

 

What three accomplishments in your personal, political, or professional career are you most proud of?

Personal: Raising a child in Abita Springs and teaching him to develop long lasting ties to his community and environment through active participation in both.

Political: I vote in every election.  I support candidates who seek to address issues and strive for consensus instead of following any particular party.

Professional: Selecting a career suited to my passion, interests and skills and then following through with the inherent rigors of professional development required to attain licensure and build a career.

 

What is your vision for Abita Springs at the end of your four-year term?

I envision the successful implementation of a Master Plan that is community-supported, revision of zoning codes and ordinances which support the Master Plan, identification of particular projects such as streetscape enhancement, improved sidewalks, crosswalks and parking which all can improve the quality of life for residents and visitors alike.

 

What will you do to improve and enhance the quality of life for Abita Springs’ residents, businesses, and visitors

In particular I aim to improve the tree canopy, streetscape, and business culture in the town and along the way build better relationships between Abita citizens, Town Government, and Public/Private Entities.

 

List several projects in which you have had significant impact and how you affected the outcome.

As a Founding member and later president of Abita Springs Friends of the Park  (FOP) it has been my honor to help implement many projects in town.

  1. Abita Springs Community-Built Playground. My role was to help communicate with the design team and guide over 500 people who participated in the building of our unique playground in the Abita Park. I also helped to paint original artwork that gives this playground a sense of place that says ‘Abita’
  2. I initiated and coordinated the first Abita EarthFest to encourage people to become good stewards of their local environment by planting trees and learning about ‘green’ resources and practices. I have subsequently worked to grow this event, and after 10 consecutive years, I can say FOP has been responsible for thousands of free trees being given away, taught visitors and residents alike how to ‘think globally and act locally’ and provided countless opportunities for residents and visitors to connect through positive activities in our town.
  3. I helped to write and implement numerous grants for projects in the town park including: bike/walking trail around the playground, several outdoorconcert and movies series and numerous grants for trees to be planted or given away. Each of these grants further fulfilled our mission of, “identifying, funding and implementing green space improvements in the Town of Abita Springs and to providing healthful activities and cultural programs that collectively enrich the lives of the community.” For a decade, all FOP events have been free for anyone to participate and all funds raised have gone directly back into Town park projects and programs.

 

Please rank your top three priorities for this new term and outline your plan for implementing these priorities.

1) Master Plan Help Town prepare for the next 20 years of growth by envisioning how we want it to function. Work together to create a plan that protects the history, culture, architecture and natural resources that create our unique town while providing a place for the next generation to settle and enjoy the same benefits. The masterplan is the starting place for zoning and ordinances which reflect and protect the values of THIS community.

2) Tree canopy program for historic district Inventory/Survey of trees along main corridors. Encourage proper pruning and maintenance of trees. Educate public on benefits of trees and how to select the right tree for the right place. Offer options for tree removal and replacement when needed. Encourage and incentivize tree planting.

3) Stimulate Economic Growth through development of a Town Business Coalition  Take stock of existing businesses and ask them what could improve their success. Inventory existing commercial buildings in the town. Focus on bringing appropriate businesses to under-utilized or empty commercial property. Pre-certify sites and work on methods to create an advertisement/outreach campaign to bring businesses desired by the local community. Get creative with strategies to support small businesses and encourage locals to support Abita businesses. Use the ‘Abita Springs’ name and culture to attract businesses which compliment the small town, artistic, natural setting and provide jobs that do not detract from this vibe.

 

What changes, if any, do you support regarding new rules, procedures, or ordinances and why?

It has been stated by mayors and council members past and present that many of our ordinances are out of date and need revisiting. As a Planner for St. Tammany Parish, I understand that zoning and ordinances are fluid and must be updated regularly to remain relevant. If development practices change and our ordinances are out of date, we are left to use them as a band-aid instead of a guide. Good planning regulations should be proactive to best serve and protect any community. Examples for thought include: Air B&B, Tiny House Movement, Plastic Bag and Recycling, Solar and Alt Energy in Historic District, Alternative transportation, etc.

 

Other than raising property millage rates, what plans, if any, do you have to increase town revenues in ways that are consistent with economic growth and a healthy, prosperous, livable, and safe community?

A central part of my vision for the Master Plan is an inventory assessment. Once we know what sort of properties we have, we can use that information to help encourage better use of existing businesses and look for ways to create infill projects to bring new business to the existing Town grid. I would also look for appropriate areas which are not currently properly zoned, that may better serve the residents and town if available for commercial development.

 

What changes, if any, will you recommend to the Mayor and other Aldermen that may reduce expenses while maintaining or enhancing the quality of life in Abita Springs?

I would encourage a thorough review of the Town budget with an eye for reducing duplicative efforts or unnecessary expenditures.  I would also seek to encourage private/public partnerships on specific projects meant to advance the branding, circulation and business culture of our town.

 

Do you have any recommendations for changes or modifications to current zoning and planning laws and decisions that will ensure that as the town grows our cultural and historical significance will not be compromised?

Yes. See answers above. I would also seek to support laws or decisions which encourage new development to mesh with the street grid, utilities and architectural style of our town instead of expanding infrastructure to isolated developments which will not afford the same benefits to future residents.

 

What are your thoughts and plans in the Development of a Master Plan?

See above questions and my campaign literature. In short, this is essential.

 

What environmental issues do you consider important to Abita Springs?

Every community survey shows a strong response in St. Tammany Parish. People feel a connection, reverence and pride in their local environment.  I support the protection of trees and waterways and groundwater, long range planning to address alternative energy, multi-modal transportation, mapping, identifying and protecting the essence of ‘the Northshore’.  Abita Springs is known for the Piney Woods Opry.  Our town sign reads, “Welcome to Abita Springs. Where nature performs miracles”.  The natural environment and the culture it supports IS the history of our town.

 

What else would you like to share with voters to help them make their decision?

Simply that it is important that they decide to vote! Of course, I’d like to win, but I think it’s important that active community involvement and participation in local government be fostered in Abita Springs. Your vote is your voice! Please consider CONTOIS.