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.
Local and state agents Thursday night raided The Keg, the popular college bar located in the area known as The Strip, leading to the (at least) temporary closure of the venue.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday, April 18, 2014:
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Time and time again, the Lafayette Parish School Board shows an overwhelming tendency toward idiocy, but Wednesday night’s contentious discussion over Northside High School’s teen mother program tops the list of dumb discussions.
“The accomplishment of this goal within the next ten years is not only critical for the region to effectively compete with other regions for residents and businesses, but also to provide an amenity for everyone in Acadiana to enjoy.”
Education Superintendent John White says a continued push to try to keep Louisiana from using tests associated with the Common Core education standards are creating "a state of chaos" for public school teachers.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's plan to use $210 million in surplus and one-time money to help balance next year's budget received the backing Thursday of the State Bond Commission, support that was needed for the maneuver to work.
State wildlife and fisheries agents have arrested a 39-year-old man accused of stealing crawfish.
An East Feliciana Parish lawmaker has jettisoned his proposal to make it harder for a condemned prisoner to appeal a death sentence.
Senators advanced a proposal Wednesday that would let the governor remove New Orleans-area levee board members for violating what he considers to be public policy, despite concerns it would introduce political meddling into state flood protection.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council on Tuesday will vote on a resolution that if approved would clear the way for a December ballot proposition asking voters to approve a 1-cent sales tax parishwide to help fund the construction of a new terminal at Lafayette Regional Airport.
Just days before the fourth anniversary of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster and oil spill, the Coast Guard has moved cleanup of Louisiana's coast to a new phase, allowing BP to end its "active" efforts in the area.
Legislators still must leave their guns at the door of the Louisiana Capitol.
Sen. Fred Mills may have an "R" behind his name, but his actions in the Louisiana Legislature transcend the established boundaries of his party.
The Louisiana House overwhelmingly rejected a repeal of the state's unconstitutional anti-sodomy law Tuesday.
The Louisiana Senate sided with Gov. Bobby Jindal and the oil industry Tuesday, agreeing to void a lawsuit that a south Louisiana flood board filed against more than 90 oil and gas companies for coastal damage.
Acadian rep notifies would-be supporters that an April 25 fundraiser for the embattled U.S. rep won’t go on as planned.
While it isn’t all too unusual for public bodies to have hired security present during meetings, the LPSB’s push to do so is arguably a response to the antics of one board member.
“I’m running. Why would I be raising all this money? Just to have to return it to people?”
With incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu watching from afar, and with a united Democratic Party in her corner, the fight to get the GOP officially behind Congressman Bill Cassidy is gaining just as much momentum as it is hushed controversy.
15th Judicial District Judge Durwood Conque has announced that he will not seek re-election after 27 years on the bench.
The controversial standardized tests are set to be used in third-grade through eighth-grade public school classrooms next year.
The Louisiana Senate has agreed to prohibit unmanned aircraft from flying over chemical plants, water treatment systems, telecommunications networks and other items considered "critical infrastructure" in Louisiana.
It didn’t take long for KATC TV 3 to jump all over the news of a dead body found in Girard Park, but in its rush to produce headlines, the local TV station got sloppy.
An unholy trinity of civil-society upheavalers whose first names are not Conner, Tanner or Logan are facing charges in Eunice.