Your Input Needed in Development Survey & Town Hall Meetings

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From the City of Central

    As you may have heard, we have been chosen for LED’s 2011 Louisiana’s Development Ready Communities program by the state.  We are one of eight cites chosen!  This program is one of LED’s strategies to strengthen the Economic competitiveness of municipalities. 

    As part of this program, each municipality must implement four development-ready elements before completing its own strategic plan.  These elements are community assessment, strategic planning, leadership development and marketing of a community. 

   One of the goals of this program is that our city develop an understanding of and address community issues and needs.  This program also contains planning assistance by a professional mentor and customized training.  This results in our city becoming certified as development ready.

    To begin this program, residents and business owners are being asked to complete a detailed survey online.  You can access the survey by visiting our city webpage,, and clicking the link on the homepage or by picking up hard copies at City Hall, the Chamber office or the local library on Joor Rd.  Deadline for completing survey is July 19. 

    Both the business and community surveys are being conducted by Zoomerang, a third-party contractor as a tool recognized as an industry standard.  Data is collected electronically and results are also generated digitally by Zoomerang and sent to the City.  This information will be used to help insure that Central’s future growth honors the ideals and desires of its citizens.

    We will also have two Town Hall meetings that will offer citizens the opportunity to share their vision of the future for Central and to participate in this process on Tuesday, July 19 at Central Middle School cafeteria.  Times will be 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.  We urge you to attend either one of these sessions.

    For more information on this program, please visit


   DISCLAIMER:  The author grants permission to third parties to forward and/or publish the entire text of this press release, including this statement.  Forwarding or publication of any edited or abbreviated version of this document is not authorized by the author.


  1. Kim Fralick

    July 7, 2011 at 7:53 am

    Thanks for printing Dave

  2. Gurdon Camus

    July 8, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    I have a question about this. I had some questions about the vagueness of the survey and how the questions were written. It looks like though the deadline for this is only a little over a week away. Also I went to pick up a hard copy for my father and a neighbor both of who do not like computers and I was told at City Hall hard copies are not available yet. My question is the town meetings. The due date on the surveys is the 19th of July. That is the same date as the meetings. I work a normal daily job as well and it looks like both meetings are on a Tuesday during normal working hours or normal times to be travelling to or from work for most people. How are these times convenient for most people who would like to get involved. Also having questions and wanting to discuss any items like how questions are worded at a meeting would not be very easy as the meeting dates are the same day the surveys are due.

  3. Mike Mannino

    July 8, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    Gurdon, Glad to see you getting involved. The answer to your question is that its by design. There has been little to no publicity on this, the committee is stacked with pro-development people, and the times are so that it makes it inconvienient. I think we can figure out why. I will post a link tonight om NCC to a series of articles about Mr. Vassello’s last job and this exact debate about development. If you took teh names of the city out, you would think you were reading about Central. We are at a crossroads for Centrals future. Either the greedy developers take over or the people that Central belongs to take control. Either way, its going to be a battle because a lot of money is at stake for the developers.

  4. Gurdon Camus

    July 8, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    Mike thanks for your reply. I have been involved for quite a while just in the background going to council meetings, ethics meetings and just trying to get as much information as possible. I am pretty aware of Steve Vassello as well. My wife has talked to the newspaper in Pagosa Springs and they gave her their opinion and my work takes me all over Louisiana and Mississippi. I spend a good bit of time in Jackson and the Madison areas and have heard about him there as well.

  5. Lyn Camus

    July 8, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    Went to City Hall to get paper copies for some of our non-computer loving family and neighbors, they don’t have any paper copies. I’m supposed to get a phone call when they get them.
    I emailed Steve Vassallo regarding this committee, how it was formed, how to get involved, and with some questions. His response was as follows: “Hello Lyn, Community involvement is always encouraged. The next time I am in Cent…ral, possibly we can meet at City Hall and discuss any particular areas of interest. I truly appreciate your email. I’m planning to return the week of July 18th Best wishes, Steve Vassallo”.
    I also emailed the co-chairs of the committee with the following questions. I also called Mr. Skip Smart who is the Director of the LED LDRC program to ask the same questions, and he responded that one of the co-chairs forwarded him my email, and that he would have to get with the survey administrator (zoomerang) to get answers to my questions. He said he would get back with me, and that he didn’t expect to have those answers before Monday.
    Here are the questions from my email:

    1) Who do the surveys go to and what is the process once they are submitted online?
    2) Who do the paper-copy surveys go to/what happens once they are turned in to City Hall/Library/Chamber?
    3) Who will interpret the results of the surveys?
    4) Will the comments be considered in the tabulation of the results?
    5) Is there any kind of filter on the survey that prevents individuals from completing it multiple times?
    6) Has/will each committee member form a “sub-committee” with 3-6 people?
    7) How were/will the members of the sub committees be selected?
    8) Is there any way I can volunteer or get involved in the process?
    9) Where did the questions and answers on this survey come from? (did the committee develop them, did the LED develop them)
    10) Will there be any additional surveys during this process?
    11) What is the purpose/what will happen at the meeting on July 19th?
    12) Were any other times considered for the Town Hall meetings? If so, why were the times of 7:30am and 4:30pm (business/work hours) selected?

    If anyone else has answers to any of these questions I’d love to hear them!


  6. Alton R Ashford

    July 8, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    Good posts and questions G and L Camus. Mike, I’m beginning to see things your way concerning this development ready program.

  7. Nancy Blount

    July 8, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    Lyn and Gurden Camus,
    You both made some real eye-opening points in your comments! Excellent set of questions that you submitted, Lyn. Those are questions that I am interested in knowing the answers to also as regards the LDRC survey and subsequent mission statement/strategic plan insofar as it will serve as a guideline regarding the type and pace of future economic development in Central.

    Mike, I will be reading the series of articles about Mr. Vassello’s previous work on economic development that you will post later, in order to try to understand some of this better.

  8. Kyle

    July 8, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    Lyn: You posted on the other thread about this in your transcript of the council meeting that Councilman Lobue looked into this program and he personally said it was good. You said he looked into this program at an LMA convention, whatever that is, and spoke very highly of it. Satisfies me. I have not seen any council person coming out against this program.

  9. Bebe

    July 8, 2011 at 10:30 pm

    Kyle, the program itself may be good, but the way the results of this survey are being tallied is extremely unreliable. If the results are bogus, then the development planned ‘desired by all or the majority’ is also just that…bogus!

    The way the survey is designed, there is no accountability. Anyone from anywhere in the world could take this survey. According to one of our members on NCCC, there is suppose to be some restriction in the creation of the survey, that restricts it to one computer per survey. Even if this boundary was in place, we have multiple computers in this house, not to mention at work, and not to mention friends who have computers I could call to take the survey if I wanted.

    Not everyone even has computers or uses them. There are no paper copies for those interested. When will they arrive?? No one knows. The two administrators are conveiniently on vacation and are unavailable for comment. They will not be returning until the day before or the day of the deadline. I am sure they are both aware of the situation, but there has been no comment made to the publics concerns in the matter.

    If the city has intentions of doing this, then they should do it to where everyone has a chance to voice their opinion, and they can tally up how many surveys they sent out and who sent them back. Hard copies for evidence in that case too. Not to mention they could gauge the percentage of participation.

    This was very poorly thought out, requires no accountability of record, unfair and unethical, and very easily allows the results to be misconstrued.

    This survey, as it is, is not worth the paper it wasn’t even printed on.

  10. Lyn Camus

    July 8, 2011 at 11:28 pm

    I would simply like to have a better understanding of how my answers will be interpreted in order to ensure I am clearly stating my opinion, and I would like to better understand the entire survey process. I believe–as I think Councilman LoBue learned at the conference he mentioned–that this program sounds great! I think it is a wonderful idea for every citizen in Central to have the opportunity to voice their opinion and to have their input considered in regards to a plan for the development of our city. This survey and it’s results will be what the plan for development is based on, and it is critical that the results are interpreted in the manner in which each survey participant intended their answers to be interpreted.

  11. Mia

    July 9, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    As I asked on the post on the consensus editorial: Mike – what is your plan to raise money to support our school system? It is one thing to bash “greedy developers” but, like them or not, they are at least bringing in income. What is your plan to support Central Community School System, with its building maintenance, teacher salaries, program implementation, retirement fund, and, last but not least, apparent school board compensation? Our small businesses and middle class tax payers can’t do it alone. What is your plan?

  12. Mike Mannino

    July 9, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    Mia my plan is that we can support what we have now, but will not be able to if we dont get this pace of growth under control. There will be no more tax increases because people are quickly losing faith in the systems. I believe the egg comes first, some of you think its the chicken. Thats a phlosophy difference that is debatable but its no reason for the rancor out here. Its something that should be evaluated and let the numbers speak for themselves. But all I see is fighting. Till then, there are some retail stores that we need and will add to our revenue without taxing existing ifrastructure. Teh absolute worse thing we could do right now is add more housing, It takes more infrastructure and has little affect on City Revenue. BTW, just to get a plug in on this since a lot of teh buidling seems to be based on whats to come in the way of infrastructure, teh Sullivan Rd project and the Hooper Rd project are dead. Green Light program is out of funds and will work to complete some things under construction and not start on new projects. Check it out.

  13. mia freneaux

    July 9, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    Mike, thanks for your response. I do not see how we are supporting what we have now when teachers are told there is not enough money to support a pay raise for them, that they will have to cover more of their health insurance, and that we have an underfunded retirement. We received an $8million settlement from EBRP. We now have $10 million in our fund balance, and $4+million in unfunded retirement liabilities. My math says we are $2 million short of break even over our first 4 years. Sounds like we need more sales tax revenue, and/or property taxes. I prefer sales taxes. I cannot blame developers, who are given the opportunity to build when landowners offer to sell. Free enterprise. Are the landowners to blame for wanting to get a good price for their property? Or is everyone involved seeing an opportunity to exercise Free Enterprise in a Capitalistic Society? We started this entire exercise wanting good schools. We have achieved that. How do we keep people from moving in who want the same and are willing to pay the sales/property tax to support it? I don’t think a “No Vacancy” sign will work. 😉

  14. Mike Mannino

    July 9, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    Very good points on the problems Mia that i am aware of since I attended the presentaion on the audit. And the shortfall is right on. We have a big problem not all our fault because Federal and State contributions are drying up. I’m not totally against new commercial that meets the demand for things that we go into town for. That will generate more sales tax. But moving CVS, Canes, or bringing in a Lowes or Home Depot adds nothing because its either existing or takes away from existing. Only a new type of business will increase revenue substantially and thats what we should go after and I’m on board. But new residential , absolutely not until we catch up or problems get worse. I like debating you ! Tell Dave to stay away LOL.

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