The City-Parish Council on Tuesday voted unanimously in favor of resolution that will allow a private nonprofit organization to lease the 100-acre Horse Farm property from the city in order to raise the funds necessary to develop the raw acreage into a public park. Lafayette Central Park Inc., the nonprofit created through the Community Foundation of Acadiana, will enter into a cooperative endeavor agreement/lease with the city, at which time it will begin raising money to design and construct the park and create a fund for perpetual maintenance.
City-Parish President Joey Durel estimated that the total cost of the park — both for the initial build-out as well as the long-term maintenance — could be up to $30 million. But Durel also argued that taking the process of developing the park out of the government’s hands and turning it over to a nonprofit comprising more than a dozen representatives of the private sector, is the right thing to do:
"As it relates to fundraising, I believe that one of the first things you think of when you’re talking in terms of getting it out of government and into the private sector is, I believe that there are companies and there are people out there who will give millions of dollars to do something like this for our community. I don’t think they would give millions of dollars to us to do [the government]."
Councilman Kenneth Boudreaux, who was otherwise supportive of the resolution and has backed the Horse Farm process from its inception, expressed some concern about a lack of diversity in Lafayette Central Park Inc. Save for one board member, the 14-member, volunteer board of directors comprising mainly titans of industry in the Hub City along with the two paid employees of the nonprofit are all white.
“I just ask that on this one we jump through hoops, we flip backwards, we do whatever incredible tasks we need to do, to make sure that this truly can be for all of Lafayette and surrounding areas,” Boudreaux commented.
Lafayette Central Park Inc. has contracted with the Urban Land Institute, which will develop the process for converting the 100 acres into a park. The process will involve input from the public. After that, a firm will be hired to take that community input and design the park. And while the council will have some say in the programming phase of the Horse Farm’s development, much of the process after that will be out of the council’s hands.
To read the resolution granting the lease and cooperative endeavor agreement with Lafayette Central Park Inc., click here.
To view discussion of the resolution, which occurs early in the meeting, click here.