The Board of Supervisors for the UL System will vote Monday on the exchange of Youth Park for a portion of the university's Johnston Street Horse Farm property. A day later, the City-Parish Council will hear an introductory ordinance spelling out the terms of the transaction and plans for developing the 100-acre tract of pristine land into a passive park. The council is expected to vote on the long-awaited deal July 3.
Lafayette Consolidated Government has already issued and sold $6 million in certificates of indebtedness to purchase the horse farm, a funding mechanism the council approved last year. The horse farm appraised for $6.61 million and Youth Park for $808,000.
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.
UL Lafayette President Joe Savoie, who, along with City-Parish President Joey Durel and the activist group Save the Horse Farm, has been instrumental in pulling the community project together, issued the letter below to university stakeholders Friday:
Dear Faculty & Staff,
On Monday, the Board of Supervisors of the University of Louisiana System will meet in Baton Rouge. One of the items on its agenda is UL Lafayette’s request for approval to enter into an act of exchange with the City of Lafayette regarding a portion of what’s commonly known as the Horse Farm.
This request is a standard procedural step for such transactions. As many of you know, the Horse Farm’s future has been discussed for years. An agreement was reached between Lafayette Consolidated Government and the UL Lafayette that enables the City of Lafayette to purchase most of the property. The Community Foundation will help develop the land into a passive public park. The university and Lafayette Consolidated Government also agreed that the Youth Park, which is adjacent to campus, will become university property.
Since the Horse Farm project is moving ahead, I would like to review the reasons that UL Lafayette supports the sale of most of the Horse Farm and the acquisition of the Youth Park. The University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s decision to sell property, known as the Horse Farm, to Lafayette Consolidated Government was made with a strong sense of community responsibility and belief that the transaction is mutually beneficial.
Since the university was founded in 1898, its leaders have considered future generations when they have had opportunities to expand and develop the campus. Because of their foresight, UL Lafayette has been able to grow physically while respecting the needs of the broader community. With Lafayette Consolidated Government’s acquisition of this land, citizens will be able to enjoy a large passive park that’s in the heart of a sophisticated city. These 100 acres of green space will contribute to the quality of life in Lafayette by providing a place for people and families to gather and to enjoy its natural beauty. The agreement to be signed by both parties prohibits the construction or maintenance of formal athletics fields or courts. So this centrally located natural environment will be protected for activities such as hiking, biking and relaxation and contribute to the physical and aesthetic quality of living in our city.
UL Lafayette will acquire Youth Park, adjacent to the southwest corner of the university’s main campus, in this transaction. For the immediate future, all park activities will continue. The fire station and property will remain under city ownership and continue as a valuable resource for UL Lafayette and surrounding neighborhoods.
The proceeds from the sale of the horse farm will be restricted to property acquisitions proximate to the campus, helping to ensure that the university can continue to grow now and in the future.
This property transaction is a linchpin for master plans that are now being determined to wisely guide the development of UL Lafayette and of Lafayette Consolidated Government. By working together to make strategic decisions about land use, the university and local government are ensuring orderly growth and preserving invaluable green space for the generations that will follow.
Read more about UL’s master plan and what selling the Horse Farm could mean for its ability to expand here.
MAY 24 Blogger Robert Mann posts this entry about the Baton Rouge Chamber's recent report on Louisiana's higher education system. It's critical to economic development, and yet our system is facing a "funding crisis" with no way to resolve it, the report says. The Chamber says control of tuition and fees must be returned to the higher ed governing boards.
MAY 24 Here's a NBC33 story about Tyrann Mathieu. He has signed with the Arizona Cardinals, inking a $3 million, four-year deal. He gets a signing bonus of $265K, but gets another, larger bonus if he doesn't get cut from the team for doing drugs. The deal reportedly includes mandatory tests and meetings for the player.
MAY 24 Jarvis DeBerry posts here about the redonkulus rhetoric that would have us believe NOLA is a safe city with a murder problem. Maybe the city's crime stats don't compare with its murder stats because you can't manipulate a murder, he says: a dead body's a dead body. It just doesn't make sense, he says, and his readers agree: a poll asks if they believe the city is safe, and more than 90 percent say no.
MAY 24 Jindal administration officials announced Thursday that the privatization of public health care is going to cost a lot more than they budgeted for, the Advocate reports here. "I'm so surprised," said no one. Anywhere. The cost they're projecting now is more than $1 billion - a lot more than the $626 million budgeted for it. And, it's more than it cost the state to operate those hospitals. So why are we doing this again?
MAY 24 Blogger CB Forgotston ridicules the recent PR campaign by the state GOP in the wake of a legislative auditor's request to both major parties. The GOP (apparently unaware that the Dems got the same request) started yammering about being targeted because it had "killed" a tax increase. CB finds that laughable, but it's also pretty funny that the GOP was comparing this episode to the IRS scandal (Because the President has so much to do with our state auditor. Right?).
MAY 24 Politico details some recent fund-raising efforts by Sen. David Vitter, which have raised the question of his future political plans. This time, it is a $5,000 per head "bayou weekend" that includes "Cajun cooking" and an all-caps "alligator hunt," the story reports. Funds raised go to a super PAC that can spend money to support Vitter in federal or state races, the story points out.
MAY 24 The pink building on Royal in the quarter was sold at a sheriff's sale Thursday, this Picayune story reports. An injunction that would have halted the sale wasn't enforced because the family failed to post a $150,000 bond, the story reports. So the owner of the mortgages on the building bought it, for nearly $7 million. Now the feuding family will have to negotiate with that company to get a lease on the building that has housed their business for close to 60 years.
MAY 23 This post in Louisiana Voice tells us about a bill by a Winnsboro lege that would require all public high school students to take at least one Course Choice online class in order to graduate. (What?) Blogger Tom Aswell says it's a monument to "waste and corruption," especially in light of the problems he's exposed with the program in recent weeks. Idaho had a similar program, but voters removed it by a 2-1 margin, Aswell says.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.
Philip deMahy Sr., a once respected New Iberia ad exec, was sentenced May 2 to spend the next two years (he faced up to 100 years) in a state penitentiary after state and federal investigators found dozens of images depicting children engaged in lewd sexual acts on his personal computer.