Safe Haven Blue-Green Campus & Trails
Even in higher ground locations, natural systems must be maximized to retain stormwater in response to current and future flood risk. The Safe Haven Blue-Green Campus & Trails project is a Community Nonstructural Mitigation/Flood Risk Reduction and Public Services project that will enhance detention capabilities in a critical drainage area adjacent to Cane Bayou, protecting campus facilities and surrounding neighborhood residences. The project, located in Mandeville, will divert stormwater into existing forested land, illustrating how a multi-phase development with existing infrastructure in vulnerable environments can be repurposed to benefit surrounding areas. The project aims to catalyze development that integrates Safe Haven Campus and the essential services it provides into the surrounding community, with the ultimate goal of destigmatizing mental health and substance abuse programs and encouraging an inclusive culture in which Safe Haven’s critical services are better utilized.
During the first round of LA SAFE meetings, the project team hosted stakeholders of St. Tammany Parish at Northshore High School in Slidell. At this meeting, many residents recently affected by the floods of May and August 2016 were interested in discussing LA SAFE’s ability to help alleviate flood conditions both along the coast and near rivers, bayous and streams. The data gathered during this meeting clearly reveal residents’ anxiety about flood risk. Residents mentioned feeling stressed, nervous and concerned for the future condition of their community. The project team noted ten specific instances where attendees mentioned feeling fear and hopelessness. The residents who attended this meeting also expressed a desire to maintain the high quality of life in the parish through smarter development decisions as the population continues to grow. Meeting attendees spoke to a need for the regulation of certain development, especially in how it relates to environmental impact and putting people at risk. Much of the discussion in the first meeting revolved around recurring themes of smarter development, environmental impact and the high quality of life in St. Tammany. These categories were referenced approximately 150 times in a meeting that was attended by around 85 people. In the second round of meetings, attendees from Mandeville specifically identified a need to increase connectivity and to alleviate flood risk in the community. In round three, the project team presented attendees with a vision for St. Tammany Parish based on the data gathered in the previous two rounds of engagement. Residents agreed with the overall vision and presented the project team with recommendations for specific projects ideas. They wanted to see projects that increased greenspace and stormwater retention capabilities and improved connectivity in areas of low and moderate risk. In the fourth round of engagement, the parish and representatives from Safe Haven proposed the Safe Haven Blue-Green Campus & Trails project idea as an opportunity to implement the concepts recommended by the public during the previous rounds of LA SAFE meetings. Residents confirmed their desire to have improved stormwater management capabilities as well as essential social and mental health services in St. Tammany Parish during the public polling process in the round five meetings. Those who marked their preference for a particular project during round five collectively chose this project as their favorite overall for investment. Eighteen different zip codes were represented across the in-person and online polling platforms.