The group is opposed to a transaction that involves the exchange of 36 acres of UL's horse farm on Johnston Street for four acres of Lafayette attorney James Davidson III's Girard Park property ("Horse Play," Oct. 19). UL President Ray Authement, who wants property closer to campus for expansion, claims each is valued at $3.25 million.
Elizabeth Brooks, a UL senior with a double major in environmental and sustainable resources/Spanish, is president of the university's Society for Peace, Environment, Action and Knowledge (known as SPEAK), which organized the campaign and provided initial funding for the yard signs (available for a suggested $2 donation). Brooks also is the Web site coordinator; www.savethehorsefarm.com explains the proposal and includes links to focus groups that are headed by students, community activists and residents in the affected areas. (The Web site is also selling T-shirts and bumper stickers.)
"We have an entire committee that is focusing on exploring fundraising possibilities and/or land swap opportunities around UL so that we can bring a concrete plan to Dr. Authement that he can feel good about," Brooks says. "His main concern was space close to campus to expand the university, so we have to fit that into our alternative to the Davidson land swap deal."
Headed by local developers Dan Menard and Jerry Brents, BRE-ARD LLC intends to buy the Davidson land and swap with the university for the horse farm acreage. BRE-ARD has yet to provide a master plan for developing the raw land, the only enduring green space on the city's most cluttered thoroughfare.
Both the Johnston Street and Girard Park property are zoned residential. On Dec. 5, the university will ask the Zoning Commission to reclassify 36 of the horse farm's 100 acres to commercial, a request that faces strong opposition from local neighborhoods. Girard Park residents, who successfully fought off a rezoning of Davidson's property several years ago, want to keep that land's use residential as well. Authement says he will likely use the land to expand the university's nursing school.
Kolleen Bowen Verlander, who runs a B&B on Girard Park Drive, heads up the zoning focus group but is fighting the land swap on various fronts. Last week she sent letters to the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System, the entity that approved Authement's land swap proposal on Aug. 26, asking System President Dr. Sally Clausen and board members to reconsider the decision. A board member would have to request that the issue be added to the agenda for the next meeting, which is scheduled for a date prior to the controversial zoning hearing in Lafayette.
The Save the Horse Farm group meets on Thursdays at 5:30 p.m. in the Lagniappe Room of the UL Student Union and has been making presentations to civic organizations around town. "We're growing," Verlander says.
As of Friday last week, more than 620 residents had signed the online petition opposing the rezoning of the horse farm, but Brooks didn't have an updated count on the paper petitions yet. "It's at least 1,000 [total]," she says.
Lafayette Police have had a busy day.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration will use $130 million in patchwork financing from a tax amnesty program, insurance settlement, uninsured motorist penalties and other excess funds to close most of the state's midyear budget deficit.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu said she disagrees with President Barack Obama's actions on immigration, hoping the latest controversy doesn't worsen her campaign difficulties.
Gay-rights advocates challenging Louisiana's same-sex marriage ban announced Thursday that they have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review their case before it is heard by a federal appeals court.
Thinking himself the “son of God,” the man charged with the 2013 killing of an officer of the Chitimacha Tribal Police will not stand trial following a ruling Thursday on his mental competency.
Either Saints coach Sean Payton doesn't want to tip Baltimore off as to who'll start in New Orleans' secondary on Monday night, or he really doesn't know yet.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Ten departing CEOs rake in $430 million; profile of FSU gunman emerges; Buffalo's weather woes and more national and international news for Friday, November 21, 2014.
The Ethics Board gives the lame duck Youngsville mayor permission to offer a sweet parting gift to the community he’s presided over for three terms.
The money came through a general obligation bond sale Thursday.
A legend in the Acadiana Oil Patch, Comeaux died Monday, Nov. 17.
With a growing number of alleged sexual assault victims coming out against Bill Cosby in recent weeks, upcoming projects have been canned by NBC and Netflix, but that won’t affect the once-loved comedian and actor’s scheduled performance in Lafayette.
The Baltimore Ravens' retooled secondary had no trouble against a rookie quarterback at home. This week, however, their task is far more challenging: stopping Drew Brees on the road in New Orleans.
Add Texas Gov. Rick Perry's name to the list of possible Republican presidential candidates flooding the campaign trail for GOP Senate candidate Bill Cassidy.
Gov. Bobby Jindal is in Florida this week with his fellow Republican governors for another gripe session aimed at their favorite target, the president, this time taking aim at his immigration plans.
Early voting for the runoff is shortened by two days because of the Thanksgiving holiday.
“Coach Don” Gagnard is running for school board. Today he offers his critique of the socioeconomic relationship between government subsidies and obesity.
Former Le Rosier chef who cooked at the James Beard House and was named one of the “Best New Chefs in America” by Food & Wine magazine in 1995 was 48.
Pat Cooper is contesting his termination by the LPSB, filing a petition Tuesday that calls the recent decision “arbitrary and capricious.”
A look at the numbers highlights the challenge facing Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu as she tries to win a fourth term in a Dec. 6 runoff against Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy.
Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is promising the new Republican majority will quickly resurrect Keystone XL pipeline legislation killed by Democrats, potentially setting up an early 2015 veto confrontation with President Barack Obama.
A national animal rights group has been rebuffed by a Baton Rouge district court judge, although the group might still get its day in court.
The administration says public college campuses won't be on the chopping block.
The legendary musician is performing at a $1,000-per-person fundraiser Dec. 1 in New Orleans.
Old savings and checking accounts, payroll checks, stocks and dividends, insurance proceeds, oil and gas royalty payments and other unclaimed money is sent to the state when a business cannot locate someone.