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 21 Gambit columnist Clancy DuBos writes about the Mother's Day shooting, and how the stages of shock and blame and healing mirror those traveled by the same city following Hurricane Katrina. The city will recover, just as it did following the storm, by reaching out to help the people injured most seriously by the event, DuBos writes. It's how we heal, he says.
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David Calhoun and Elizabeth “EB” Brooks are the first two employees of Lafayette Central Park Inc., the nonprofit charged with turning Lafayette Consolidated Government’s 100-acre Johnston Street Horse Farm property into a passive public park. Calhoun was named executive director, and Brooks is director of planning and design.
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.