Coming together is the beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success. Henry Ford
I drove around Capestang today to pick up some groceries at Lidl and Intermarche as one does. The same route I normally take about twice a week; first Intermarche to grab those items Lidl doesn’t carry and then back to Lidl to grab the rest.
I happened to look over towards the big parking lot beside the Nelson Mandela Centre, Salle Polyvalent when I noticed a man putting up a fence over by the petanque courts next to the new skate park, and it suddenly occurred to me that during my two weeks away in Vancouver Canada visiting my mom, there were many little changes that took place in Capestang France!
A new stop sign on one corner, a road route change from a roundabout to a three-way stop with a through road, a new curb in the residential sector, new white parking lines and arrows painted on the road around my block, and I just saw two men working throughout the day picking up the dog crap from my house straight to the other where my friend Marion lives. One man was more interested in picking the weeds between the cracks and finding garbage along the roads to put in the big black plastic bags. But shine it did!
It made me take notice of all that Pierre Polard and his campaign has done in the last two years. It amazes me to think, we have had two full years in municipal council with still another two years to go! We have done two whole years working at making Capestang a better place to live for all, including us foreigners!
#1 Creating Jobs
I know of at least 5 new positions created to help clean up our village, and making clerical order and work more organized; including inside the Mairie itself, where we have a person helping manage the office.
#2 Dog Poop
We now have a 25€ fine is caught leaving your dog’s poop on the street. We also give free bags at the town hall but they are also available along the canal in dog poop distribution sites for tourists with garbage bins next to them and a clean up crew in charge of different sectors throughout the year. The main focus during the tourist season is in the town centre and the routes to get there.
#3 Making Sidewalks Wheel Friendly
Now the curbs have been lowered to make it easier for baby carriages and wheelchair accessible to the safe curbs away from traffic. Before, people walked on the roads, and the cars parked on the sidewalk. Bizarre!
#4 Calming Down Traffic
Traffic calming along main route have slowed down straight through traffic and has discouraged people from cutting through the village itself as a shortcut. These areas are far safer than ever before, and not to mention clean and far prettier with square sidewalks, beautiful gardens and new-planted trees.
#5 Food Bank Shopping Project
Our food bank now takes perishables from Lidl and Intermarche as the government of France has passed a law making throwing out food, a prosecutable offense. But the food bank station also offers clothes and household stuff donated from residents to recycle to our poor community. They have dignity by being able to shop for their own items at the food bank with weekly vouchers. Love it!
#6 Campsite renovations and longer season! March 21 – November 15st!
Opening hours: Monday to Friday 8 h/11H and 14h/19 h
Weekend 8h/10 h and 16 h/19 h
New renovations for our campsite; hedges, terminals, and toilets! For our mobiles: new curtains and benches decorated by the workshops of Audrey from Capestang, air conditioning units, shaded terraces and lights!
Longer hours make such good sense, the days are long and hot during the summer, but in the fall and spring it is still so lovely and people from colder countries enjoy visiting this diverse and lovely region.
#7 New Tennis Courts
They built a new double tennis court to accommodate the growing number of people in the tennis association.
#8 New Skate park
Our children have far more to do now that we have a brand new state of the art Skate Park to play in!
Around the area they have created a picnic space with shade trees that now draws families to this area where activities take place right behind the Nelson Mandela Centre.
#9 New Playground in Town Centre
The kids municipal council presented the project to build a new playground near the centre of town for visitors and for kids during our festivals. Beautifully located next to the municipal police station, next to the foyer our town’s castle.
#10 Renovating and staff improvements of retirement home
120,000€ in upgrades (facade, roof, floors, gate, paint) and the hiring of two extra full time care workers.
#11 Creation of new position for a doctor paid by the village
This is a new idea, where the village pays for a new doctor because 1/3 are ready for retirement and we need 4 to run 4000 patients efficiently. The new doctor will be in the medical centre (built by the old mayor during his last year). It unfortunately has not been Capestang’s greatest success as there are many empty rooms to fill. It is very had to fill these spaces; rent on new building, finding new clientele, etc…
This is our solution to ensure a future for our growing population once the other three doctors all retire.
#12 New Water and Sanitation Systems
Complete overhaul of our water sanitation systems that support our neighbouring villages as well. This ensures a future for Capestang, creating jobs, and servicing surrounding villages
#13 Capestang officially on Saint Jacques Compostelle route
The idea was to make Capestang a part of the historical pilgrim-walking route to increase tourism. The pilgrims walk not 2 kilometers away, but are now offered an alternative route towards Capestang to walk along the Canal du Midi. Fortunately for us, our own historical church has finally been added as a pleasurable stop along the way! Big accomplishment and I personally have already enjoyed the walking pilgrims visiting my one night stay gite! Thank-you very much!
#14 Canal Paths and New Trees
Upgrade to our paths along the Canal du Midi have made my life far more pleasurable. Now taking a bike ride along the canal is smoother and even, not to mention for prettier to look at! We have replaced our plane trees along the canal to ensure the UNESCO heritage site remains such and gives Capestang future generations something to enjoy. We have also planted more trees on the clearing beside the Iron Bridge where some festivals are held. This space will be very beautiful for future generations
#15 Creation of new website and Social Media for Capestang
We brought the village up to 20th century standards and are now on Facebook and have a shiny new beautiful website to go with it! Easy to navigate and full of invaluable information for tourists and locals!
Of course I only went back the last 6 months on the Capestang Facebook Page to create this list, there are many smaller tasks that the Mairie have done as a conglomerate that I know nothing about… and also many projects that are still in the works.
A good example of this is Capestang becoming a FLOWER Village. Some think it is impossible because we don’t have a full time gardener on staff! I say let’s find one! To every problem there is a solution and anything is truly possible if you want it! This would bring a huge among of steady tourist to our village by the BUS LOAD!!
There are also associations working hard to make our festivals amazing, groups working together unified to build our traditions and make our celebrations unique and memorable for our community and tourists alike.
So many efforts go unnoticed by the many, but it is these people that are building our community strong.
Why is tourism and creating the job the same thing? is an article I wrote before Polard was elected mayor, which after rereading, clearly shows how far we have come as a village.
Each item on my list of items important to me, have been carefully addressed and our council have moved forward on. This makes me understand the system here in France so much better than when we started.
How those tedious conversations slowly seep information and concerns into our meetings and how our ideas are put into action.
Nothing happens overnight, but methodically, thoughtfully, and ever so slowly- ideas take shape, and carefully form until everyone understands the reasons for an idea to move forward and we make it suit everyone.
Anglophones of Capestang bring me their ideas, and I pass them along through Sylvie or Pierre directly.
-Ideas like the chairs on the square staying out for all sunny days, not just the high season.
Other ideas moved on were to slow down certain roads for safety reasons, or evening out paths along the canal to make out town prettier and more attractive to tourists especially cyclists travelling along the UNESCO site the Canal du Midi, and clearly marked signs, routes, and maps for tourists to understand where to go and what to do while they are in our village.
And other things as simply as making Capestang cyclist and Wi-Fi friendly making accessing our village and campsites easier and upgrading areas to make them more beautiful for picnics and walks; which in turn, gives more for tourist to do.
Our church tour guide adds the historical element passing along information to please any history buff visiting the area, all while taking them up our steep church tower to enjoy the spectacular views from the top of Capestang.
And of course, I am always available to hear personal issues and concerns that we, as the town hall (but mainly Pierre and Sylvie) try to solve as quickly as possible.
Disputes with neighbours mostly but other concerns like damage to property etc… I am always here to pass the information along to the right person. My personal email at the town hall is Eva.HAMORI@ville-capestang.fr
The town hall and the municipal councilors actually work for you the citizens of Capestang, and we want to be accessible.
Oh so many reasons to be proud of Capestang… Looking forward to the next two years of progress the Capestang municipal council will bring.