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.
The governor is traveling the country laying the groundwork for a possible 2016 presidential campaign, but his approval ratings at home hover well below 50 percent.
State District Judge Bob Downing extended the order and delayed a planned Wednesday hearing about a permanent injunction while negotiations continue between Attorney General Buddy Caldwell and the waste disposal site operator.
New Louisiana higher education commissioner Joseph Rallo will be paid more than his predecessor.
Elijah McGuire and Alonzo Harris each had four rushing touchdowns, and Louisiana-Lafayette rolled to 419 yards on the ground in a 55-40 victory over Arkansas State on Tuesday night.
Bill and Hillary Clinton are the validators-in-chief for Democrats struggling through a bleak campaign season in states where President Barack Obama is deeply unpopular.
President Barack Obama is turning to black radio listeners to plead for midterm votes, a targeted approach to drum up Democratic support at a time when many candidates don't want him around in person.
WaPo Watergate editor Ben Bradlee dies; Clintons stump for Dems; Liberians stranded and more national and international news for Wednesday, October 22, 2014.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
"I am extremely disheartened by the political machines that are attempting to hijack my efforts along with others that advocate for children."
Landrieu, who is fighting to keep her seat for a fourth term, said that Ebola is serious and precautions should be taken, but she accused Republicans of using the virus outbreak in West Africa to "create fear" here at home.
Law enforcement agencies are participating in a "Louisiana Heroin Summit," designed to address the recent rise in heroin use and drug-related deaths around the state.
State education officials are preparing to release performance scores for public schools and public school districts.
Saints coach Sean Payton is starting a new week by emphasizing, repeatedly, the many good things he noticed during New Orleans' latest loss.
We will be offering our recommendations on the constitutional amendments tomorrow.
The justices did not comment in leaving in place lower court rulings that dismissed the lawsuits against BP and other companies involved in the worst U.S. offshore oil spill.
White registration is down by 7,700 voters while black registration has shot up by 7,100 voters.
Even though it had been rumored for months, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu finally pulled the trigger recently on a major campaign shakeup that moved control over to a few Big Easy insiders.
Louisiana's health department says it will seek law changes to stop billing sexual assault victims for exams and tests.
It wasn’t the historic slashes to higher ed funding or the ensuing tuition spikes that recently had LSU’s student body and faculty riled up in collective outrage.
Will $400 be enough for the re-election campaign of LPSB's Hunter Beasley to overcome two years of holding our school system hostage and hurting the education of our children all because of a personal dislike of the superintendent?
Saints tight end Jimmy Graham said Friday he expects his playing status in Detroit to be decided by coach Sean Payton on Sunday, shortly before the game.
Lawmakers have sidestepped a decision on whether they accept claims from Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration that the state closed last year's books with a nearly $179 million surplus.
Coming off the high of a fourth quarter comeback against Tampa Bay and a helpful bye week, linebacker Junior Galette sees a real turnaround coming for New Orleans' struggling defense.
Former President Bill Clinton, the Democratic Party's most popular surrogate this fall, is heading to Louisiana early next week for a campaign rally with U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu.
Time and again you hear people say DA Mike Harson is unbeatable because he's doled out political favors over the past 20 years. But a new lawsuit could end that speculation.