The Lafayette Consolidated Council decided to delay until April 7 any decisions on how to divvy up more than $9 million in federal stimulus dollars among a host of road- and public-transit projects. That could give planners time to better streamline priorities on the current list of candidate projects.
City-Parish President Joey Durel publicly questioned the wisdom in at least one of the projects pertaining to public transportation: $75,000 for hurricane-proof bus shelters. The issue came up Thursday morning during Durel’s call-in radio program in KPEL, and he elaborated on it with The Independent Weekly. The proposal for a $75,000 expenditure is not to build the shelters but rather to generate a design for a hurricane-proof shelter. The shelters themselves would cost $7,500 apiece, according to Durel.
“One of my questions was, ‘We’re going to spend $75,000 just to design a hurricane proof shelter that costs us $7,500?’ You know, I’d rather take my chances than spend that much money,” Durel says, “That’s not building it; that’s just designing it.”
Durel also wonders whether LCG could simply pattern a hurricane-proof bus shelter after a pre-existing design, rather than design one from scratch. “Surely, somewhere in the southern part of the United States on the Gulf Coast, somebody has designed a hurricane-proof shelter.”
However, the city-parish president says he isn't too concerned that something like a hurricane-proof bus shelter will get in the way of making the best decisions on how to allocate the stimulus money. “They have to put things on a piece of paper so there can be discussion about it. But that certainly doesn’t make it anywhere close to being etched in stone.”
Other proposals on the list of public-transit projects include $800,000 to purchase two 35-foot low-floor buses and roughly $431,000 to upgrade bus communications systems. By far the most expensive proposal is to spend $2.5 million for upgrades to the Rosa Parks Transportation Center downtown. A PDF document detailing the list of proposed stimulus spending for both road- and public-transit projects can be obtained here.
Is it a crime for citizens to photograph, video, or take notes of a police officer in the line of duty, or a right protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution? Locally, such activity, as witnessed recently, will at the very least result in a night spent behind bars.
David Calhoun and Elizabeth “EB” Brooks are the first two employees of Lafayette Central Park Inc., the nonprofit charged with turning Lafayette Consolidated Government’s 100-acre Johnston Street Horse Farm property into a passive public park. Calhoun was named executive director, and Brooks is director of planning and design.
Episcopal School of Acadiana’s Dr. Joshua Caffery, chair of the school’s English Department, is headed to Washington, D.C., and the Library of Congress as the latest winner of the Alan Lomax Fellowship in Folklife Studies.