The only person to have ever served at the helm of the Downtown Development Authority, Executive Director Cathy Webre, is retiring at the end of the year. Webre made the announcement to DDA board members and staff on Wednesday and Thursday of last week.
News of Webre’s retirement caught some in the downtown community by surprise, but she says she’s been mulling stepping down for at least a year. “I’ve been planning this for some time,” says Webre, who adds she will fill her newfound free time with travel and volunteering in the community.
Webre was a planning employee in the city of Lafayette’s Community Development Department under then-Director Phil Lank in the mid-1980s when the Downtown Development Authority was created. At the time, downtown Lafayette had fallen under the spell of decay as businesses abandoned the old city center and followed the money to the suburbs. Jefferson Street was a one-way running north between Lee Avenue and Cypress Street and, save for a couple of night clubs and stalwart restaurants Don’s Seafood & Steakhouse and Dwyer’s Café, downtown Lafayette barely registered a pulse after sunset.
Webre moved from Community Development to become executive director of the newly created DDA in 1986. By 1993 the state Legislature created a taxing district downtown that bankrolled DDA’s operations. (Funding for DDA salaries and projects theretofore came via grants obtained by the city’s Community Development Department.) Downtown Lafayette Unlimited, a private, nonprofit offshoot of DDA that administers events like Downtown Alive! and ArtWalk, was also created and downtown Lafayette began its return from the cultural and economic doldrums that befell it with oil bust that gripped Lafayette throughout much of the ’80s.
DDA’s mission has largely focused on planning and development of the downtown area, and with the advent of StreetScape in the late 1990s and the return of business investment and the rebirth of downtown as a go-to evening destination, downtown Lafayette is once again a cultural centerpiece.
“It’s been a labor of love over a lot of years,” Webre says wistfully.
Webre says the DDA board will likely conduct a regional search for her replacement through the International Downtown Association and other channels.
To post a comment, please log into your IND account. If you do not have an account, click the "register" button to create one. Facebook comments can be used as an alternative to creating an account at theIND.com.
NOV 26 Zach Kopplin, who we came to know and love when he was a Louisiana high school student lobbying for the continued inclusion of science stuff in science class, pens this post in The Atlantic about a "textbook" available for social studies instruction in Texas that discusses how Moses contributed to the Constitution. (Oy! Texas rednecks love Jews. Who knew?)
NOV 26 Finally, mad people on the interwebz is a good thing! World wide webby outrage has caused the village of Moreauville to reverse its plan to confiscate pit bulls and Rottweillers and euthanize them simply because of their breed, WAFB reports here. The plan? They're going to enforce the leash law. Well, that would have been a good place to start.
NOV 26 Jim Brown, like many of us Louisiana voters, seems fed up with out of town know-it-alls trying to tell us what to do. Bill Cassidy can't make it through the day without flying someone in to "tell us political retards" how to vote, he says.
NOV 26 Blogger Tom Aswell is writing about the behavior of the two finalists in the 6th Congressional District race: Edwin Edwards and Garret Graves. Edwards has come out swinging, but Graves' campaign seems bent on snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, Tom says.
NOV 26 Unless you're in Virigina, you shouldn't count on seeing our Governor on Election Day. Mark Ballard writes in the Advocate's political blog that Bobby will be appearing at a GOP love fest of some kind there, instead of spending the day here.
NOV 26 This post on The Lens takes a look at the ongoing dispute in New Orleans over the banners about the upcoming tax election for the school system. The banners are hanging on schools, and some feel they are promotional, which is not allowed, instead of educational - which is allowed.
NOV 26 Not all college students are focused on football games and parties at this time of year. This post on DIG Baton Rouge recounts an LSU student group that tries to make sure that those who are hungry and homeless are not forgotten by those of us who aren't.
NOV 25 Edwin Edwards took off the gloves on Monday, this post on WAFB tells us. At a Press Club appearance, he wondered how his 6th Congressional District opponent, Garret Graves, could be an expert in all the areas in which he claims to be - when he has no college degree in anything. (Five years - FIVE YEARS - in college, but no degree. Huh?)
NOV 25 Blogger Mike Deshotels offers this primer on predatory charter schools and how they operate, specifically in Louisiana. They're not just profiting from our tax dollars, they're using children and shortchanging them to do so, Deshotels says.
NOV 25 Here's a link to the petition that has been created to save Zeus, a family dog who is targeted for death by the learned fathers of the Avoyelles Parish village of Moreauville. They passed an ordinance based on nothing that outlaws pit bulls and Rotweillers. As of Tuesday morning, the petition had more than 230,000 signatures - a number that's a wee bit higher than the village population of 929.
Read the Flipping Paper!
Click Here for the Entire Print Version of IND Monthly