The Comprehensive Plan Citizens Advisory Committee gets an overview of the process from planners Monday evening at the Rosa Parks Transportation Center.
The Comprehensive Plan Citizens Advisory Committee met with planning consultants from the Philadelphia firm contracted to produce Lafayette’s comprehensive master plan on Monday as members of the Tea Party of Lafayette kept a watchful eye.
The day’s activities included a bus tour of the parish, which continued on Tuesday. About 20 members of the CPCAC gathered at the Rosa Parks Transportation Center downtown Monday evening following the bus tour to get an overview of the planning process from Wallace, Roberts & Todd, which in December inked a $1.2 million contract with Lafayette Consolidated Government to help produce the master plan. The committee also began ironing out some technical issues including on what days and at what time public meetings would be held.
Roughly 25 members of the public, many of them members of the local Tea Party, filled the limited area for public seating during the meeting. At one point during the meeting discussion among members centered around a suggestion by committee member Don Bertrand, who opined that the group could be more productive if it conducts public meetings at 7 a.m. This didn’t sit well with some in the public gallery and with a few committee members.
“I wouldn’t do anything that would lead one to conclude that we’re limiting public input,” cautioned John Fernsler, the lead planner from WRT. Although the group didn’t set a time for public meetings, which will commence in about a month, the consensus seemed to edge toward conducting evening meetings to promote public engagement.
The Tea Party of Lafayette posted notice of the meeting on its website last week under the ominous heading “THEIR PLAN...YOUR PROPERTY,” and the wariness of the group was evident among at least a few who attended the meeting, with one woman asking the WRT team during the meeting whether her property would be expropriated.
The question raised some eyebrows among the planners and committee members, although Fernsler answered the woman’s question with an emphatic “no.”
Fernsler did, however, seem to acknowledge that comprehensive planning meets with resistance in some quarters. “There will be controversial issues that can’t be avoided,” he told the committee. “We’re not going to duck from any of the tough issues.”
Fernsler’s associate, Silvia Vargas, gave the committee an overview of the process, which will be conducted in four phases. Phase One, which is under way, includes committee assignments and tours of the parish as the planners and committee members get acquainted with the needs of the parish. Phase Two includes developing a vision for Lafayette’s future and building a framework for the master plan; this phase will last from March to October. Phase Three includes actual development of the plan and its many components, occurring from November to July of next year. And Phase Four will be implementation of the plan, which will rely on the City-Parish Council approving legislation and funding for the plan.
Check out tomorrow’s cover story in The Independent for more on resistance to community planning including a way-out-there conspiracy theory centered around a little-known, 20-year-old United Nations resolution.
MAY 17 Here's a column from James Gill, this time in the Advocate. Gill, who has jumped ship from the Picayune, writes about the absurdity of dueling polls in this post. The numbers are so wildly different, it is obvious that both sides are "cooking the books," he writes. In particular, he looks at Sen. Mary Landrieu, and how her recent actions in DC have been received by those polled. Gill's acerbic, amusing prose is a welcome addition to a paper so conservative as to be occasionally lacking in personality.
MAY 17 Blogger Tom Aswell continues delivering bombshells about the state education department and Gov. Jindal's education "reform" efforts. In this post, he reports that students in the Shreveport area have been signed up for a charter school without their knowledge or consent. Most interesting to Aswell is how this Texas-based charter (with ties to GOP types) got the personal student information it has, if the students didn't give it.
MAY 17 This post by JR Ball in the Baton Rouge Business Report is an interesting tongue-in-cheek look at recent Baton Rouge economic development efforts. Among the items he examines is the idea that gaining a Costco makes BR a "world-class city." (Really? All you need is a different brand of Sam's? MK!) This effort, and other recent ones, are all built on the taxpayer's back, with tax zones, tax incentives and tax rebates, Ball writes.
MAY 17 Blogger CB Forgotston is critical of the legislature's reliance on a revenue-estimating committee's decision to include projected tax amnesty income in this year's forecast. That's a problem, CB posts, because the deadline for these people to pay their taxes is June 30, 2014. So when do you think these people who haven't paid taxes in years are going to pay their taxes? Surely not before June 30, and that means the money won't be there for this year's budget, he argues.
MAY 17 Here's an interesting blog out of California by a Hollywood writer, attorney and academic named Brian Alan Lane. He blogs about higher ed, and was a whistle-blower in a scandal over false credentials. In this post, he takes aim at LSU's new top dog, King Alexander. It's convoluted and a little confusing, but it sure makes Alexander a lot more interesting than he was yesterday.
MAY 17 Blogger Robert Mann writes about the LSU Board's refusal to allow Dr. Fred Cerise to testify before the legislature about Gov. Jindal's plan to close down all the state's charity hospitals and dump the poor on the private system. It's hard to imagine anyone more qualified than Cerise to testify about that, so why would anyone try to prevent him doing so? Mann thinks it is because the powers that be aren't interested in hearing any truth about the plan.
MAY 17 This post on the Louisiana Sinkhole Bugle, a blog that notes developments in the Bayou Corne and Jefferson Island salt domes, talks about a proposed expansion of the salt dome storage under Lake Peigneur in Iberia Parish. Residents are working against it for several reasons, including two biggies: the sinkhole disaster in Bayou Corne and the continuing, unexplained bubbling on the surface of the Lake.
MAY 17 NOLA police arrested more people Thursday accused of either being involved in the Mother's Day shooting or hiding the suspect afterward, this Gambit story reports. The NOLA police chief said he suspects the whole thing was gang-related and throws out a challenge to the gangs: he's got informants now, he says, and he knows a lot more than the gangs want him to know. The people who live in the neighborhoods terrorized by gangs are ready to talk, he says.
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.
Is it a crime for citizens to photograph, video, or take notes of a police officer in the line of duty, or a right protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution? Locally, such activity, as witnessed recently, will at the very least result in a night spent behind bars.
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.