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The Official Student Media of Northwestern State University of Louisiana

Purple Media Network

Purple Media Network

Ins and Outs of Natchitoches: What the community needs

This+year%2C+the+city+should+bring+in+more+sidewalks+for+pedestrians+as+the+most+recent+sidewalk+between+the+Eugene+P.+Watson+Memorial+Library+and+Chick-fil-A+was+completed+in+2019.
Tyra Jones
This year, the city should bring in more sidewalks for pedestrians as the most recent sidewalk between the Eugene P. Watson Memorial Library and Chick-fil-A was completed in 2019.

Natchitoches, Louisiana is known to many tourists as the “City of Lights,” but it is home to around 17,000 residents, including college students and high school boarding students who live here during the school year. To these tourists, Natchitoches has it all: a historic Front Street, the beautiful Cane River and firework shows for the whole city to watch. But to many of its residents, Natchitoches has dropped the ball when it comes to things like public transportation, drivable roads and more youth-geared activities.

The city of Natchitoches is the home of Northwestern State University of Louisiana, Louisiana Scholars’ College and the Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts. All three are located on the same campus. These educational institutes bring in thousands of students to Natchitoches every year, many without cars or any forms of transportation. There are no rideshare apps like Uber or Lyft in the city, so many students and residents alike are forced to travel by foot. This is difficult due to the lack of sidewalks, crosswalks and safety measures for people on foot in Natchitoches.

From NSU’s campus to the only Walmart in town, it is 1.7 miles, and it takes an average of 38 minutes to get there on foot. For a student who has to walk there, and then back to their dorm with groceries, it can be very difficult. NSU’s campus itself is very walkable fortunately, but students cannot get everything they need to thrive on the campus, causing the need for them to travel into the city.

Having public transport, such as buses that travel around town, would help many residents get where they need and would stop putting walkers in dangerous territory. If public transport is unattainable, then Natchitoches needs to work on becoming a more walkable city. Not only is there a need for sidewalks on most roads, but people who travel on foot need things like crosswalks with signals letting you know when to cross, shade to stand under and street furniture. If the city could implement a few of these things, it would help lots of Natchitoches residents have more accessible travel options, and hopefully one day public transport will become an important issue to city officials, but until then we shall wait.

One trait of Louisiana that you can find mostly anywhere in the state is roads in poor or almost unusable conditions. One pothole can pop your tire and ruin your week. State and city officials are not putting money towards improving roads and streets in Louisiana, and this is no different in Natchitoches. Roads cost money and time to repair, and it seems like the state does not have enough of either, yet when you cross the state line into Texas, you can realize that that state has no problem delegating the necessary funds to keep roads smooth. Natchitoches has a lot of traffic, especially during the month of December, which causes road conditions to worsen. This may deter tourists from coming back, and definitely angers residents on their commute. With more funds allocated to repaving roads, Natchitoches residents and tourists will rejoice alike.

While Natchitoches has many events during December to showcase Front Street and the Christmas lights, some residents feel that “third places” are lacking for youth in the city. The reference of “third place” refers to a sociological term for places that are separate from your home and your work – for children, their school. They are necessary for relaxation and fun, and for youth, it gives them a place to go after school or on the weekends while their parents may be at work. Children and teens need places to decompress, and lack of activities for teens can cause a rise in youth crime, which has become a problem in Natchitoches. Places like a bowling alley used to be great for children and students to have fun at, but are now closed, leaving children to find other ways to spend their evenings.

Even though Natchitoches, like any other city, has its faults, the city does a lot for its residents, including weekly firework and drone shows, parades and events like farmer’s markets. There is always a way to improve, and to make the city better. Students spend many months as residents of the city, and should be thought of when decisions about the city are being made.

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About the Contributors
Destin Lopez, Current Sauce - Viewpoints Editor
Destin Lopez is a senior communication major, with a minor in pre-law and paralegal studies at NSU. She is currently the 2023 Viewpoints editor of the Current Sauce. She has had a love for writing and design since highschool, where she spent two years as the Editor-in-Chief of the yearbook. Destin is excited to share her stories to NSU and Natchitoches, and is hoping to leave a mark with her writing.
Tyra Jones, Current Sauce - Photographer
Tyra Jones is a junior health and exercise science major with a concentration in physical therapy. She is involved in many extracurriculars on campus, some of them include working for the Recruiting office, a former Freshman Connector and a Demon Mentor. She is excited to build her photography skills and meet new people this semester and looks forward to being a part of The Current Sauce.

Comments (3)

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  • L

    LyleJan 26, 2024 at 9:05 am

    The city or DOT needs to adjust the signal lights in Natchitoches this small town has a lot of traffic now days and the lights need to be synchronized and made to where the traffic can flow better some intersections hold traffic on on both sides for 2 or 3 minutes before the light will change to green which makes traffic very congested and causes more wrecks also the streets or past due for repair and maintenance stop giving the money away to people to pay there utility bills every month and put it towards something that will draw people to come visit Natchitoches to make money come on city officials it’s just common sense

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    • A

      Art DewJan 31, 2024 at 2:26 pm

      I agree! This is a college and tourist town- keep it up. The streets and roads are ridiculous and probably worse than any other college town. We need students on campus- not online.

      Reply
  • M

    MelodyJan 25, 2024 at 5:44 pm

    When I first moved here, I could not believe there was no public transportation in this town! No Ubers or other ride sharing. No buses to the airports or cities like Shreveport or Alexandria. What do young people do here? How do the international students here survive? They can hardly leave campus! I agree with this writer that something needs to be done! Front street is nice for tourists but young people need a few things to do! The NSU campus used to have a bowling alley years ago- what happened to that? At the very least a weekly (or daily) shuttle bus to Walmart, for goodness sakes!

    Reply