Seven years of perseverance paid off Tuesday, as the City-Parish Council voted 7-2 to transform the 100-acre Horse Farm into a community park.
It was almost seven years ago that The Independent broke the story about a suspect land swap involving UL's Horse Farm on Johnston Street. It seems like a lifetime.
With seven wise men voting in favor of the deal Tuesday — I'm pretty sure you can figure out which two councilmen voted against it — the vision to turn 100 acres of rolling beauty into a passive park crossed its final hurdle.
First conceived in October 2005 by the Save the Horse Farm group, which passionately fought a dubious deal that would have turned the Johnston Street acreage into a commercial development, the central park plan picked up steam within months when City-Parish President Joey Durel got behind the effort. The deal was all but sealed when community-minded Joe Savoie came in as university president in mid-2008.
"This is a much, much bigger transaction than just buying the horse farm, although that by itself is plenty big enough for what it’s going to do for our community," Durel told the council Tuesday afternoon. “It’s a win on many, many, many levels and something I think is very critical as we compete in this world today for jobs,” he continued. “It fits in with our comprehensive plan that we’re working on, and the university’s comprehensive plan.”
Lafayette Consolidated Government has already issued and sold $6 million in certificates of indebtedness to purchase the Horse Farm from the university. The funding mechanism was approved by the council last year. The deal is also a partial land swap, with LCG turning over Youth Park, located behind the Johnston Street fire station near UL's campus, to the university. The horse farm appraised for $6.61 million and Youth Park for $808,000. UL plans to use proceeds from the sale to expand its campus, quite possibly to make a down payment on old Lourdes campus.
The proposed ordinance requires that LCG develop the property as a passive park — no basketball, baseball or soccer fields — within 10 years or return it to UL. The Community Foundation is expected to play a key role in bringing the project to fruition, but the specifics of that role have not yet been defined and/or disclosed.
Read the ordinance up for final approval here.
The Lafayette superintendent insists the budget is illegal and vows to fight on.
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You may not like all of “it,” but U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, unlike many of her colleagues, isn't sitting around twiddling her thumbs in Congress.
Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro says he "can't wait" to play against Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
The heat keeps rising for Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal as a new slate of corruption allegations surfaced this week.
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At the horn the officiating crew trotted to the tunnel and left security personnel to clean up after them.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Sign "ninjas" cleaning up clutter; NYC doctor positive for Ebola; Ferguson grand jury decision nears; and more national and international news for Friday, October 24, 2014.
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