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.
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
Dogs get back-to-school blues; mother pleads for release of journalist; ice bucket challenge and more national and international news for Thursday, August 28, 2014.
A group supporting taxpayer-funded private school tuition vouchers is appealing a federal judge's order that Louisiana must provide regular reports to federal officials on the state's voucher program.
The Discovery Channel has canceled reality TV star Will Hayden's popular "Sons of Guns" show after his arrest on an aggravated rape charge.
The LPSB will finally hear from the attorney it hired to investigate the superintendent at a special meeting Thursday at 4 p.m.
Authorities are investigating a report that a student there warned the principal of impending violence similar to that depicted in the movie "The Purge."
Saints cornerback Champ Bailey has played for more than a handful of playoff teams during a career that has seen him selected to 12 Pro Bowls.
Police say a 56-year-old Lafayette man walking behind a dump truck died when the truck hit him as it was backing up.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is a proud papa of new baby girl.
The books on Louisiana's last budget year have been closed, but it took a bit of borrowing from this year to make the numbers work.
The Iberia Parish Coroner responded Monday to the attention surrounding the questionable shooting of Victor White III, a black man from New Iberia who died April 2 while in the custody of local law enforcement.
Two months after lawmakers agreed to create a $40 million higher education incentive fund, no decisions have been made about how to divide the money.
With Drew Brees back healthy, the New Orleans Saints are free to work on the little things that can make the difference between a Super Bowl run and something less.
Incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu and her lead GOP challenger Congressman Bill Cassidy are running close when it comes to money. Landrieu has $5.5 million to Cassidy’s $5.6 million in the bank.
With expectations mounting that Gov. Bobby Jindal will soon announce his campaign for president, attention is turning to not only who he will bring along with him but also what will transpire politically back home during the transition.
Seven of the 11 U.S. cities in a new ranking of “most dangerous diets” are in the Bayou and Lone Star states, but the ranking is more about poverty than fried oysters.
Lafayette police are investigating a fatal shooting involving an alleged burglar and homeowner.
Saints tight end Jimmy Graham got the message from the NFL. He's not dunking footballs over goal posts any more.
With qualifying over, the start of campaign season is official, and for the Lafayette Parish School Board, the race toward Nov. 4 will pit 20 candidates in battles for all 9 of the district’s available seats.
An abortion rights organization has filed the first court challenge to a Louisiana law that would require doctors who perform abortions to be able to admit patients to a nearby hospital.
U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister started his sign-up for re-election Friday the same as any other candidate, filling out paperwork and handing over cash to pay his qualifying fee. But he finished it quite differently, doused with ice.
The recent release of Victor White III’s autopsy report could spell trouble, as it tells a much different story of his death than the one told five months ago by the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office.
“Candidates for Congress and members of Congress spend between 30 and 70 percent of their time raising money to get back to Congress or to get their party back into power.”
Over the last four days of the trial against attorney Daniel Stanford, there’s been one notable absence from Judge Elizabeth Foote’s courtroom: attorney Bill Goode.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees and wide receiver Nick Toon are not on the same page yet, and time is running short for Toon to get it right.