It’s been a hot, humid, frustrating summer for many who give a fig about Lafayette due to the mind-numbing rancor coming from the school board as what has become an obstructionist simple(-minded) majority on the board perfects the art of division. That’s the topic for this week’s cover story/editorial.
But way behind the scenes, promise: the Comprehensive Master Plan, stalled briefly this spring, is getting its mojo back.
In late July, the Comprehensive Plan Citizens Advisory Committee met downtown to get an overview of the so-called Preferred Future Scenario. That’s a draft version — broad yet threaded with some specifics — of what (hopefully) by the end of this year will be the, ta-da!, Comprehensive Master Plan for the city of Lafayette, a plan that will serve as a guide for development and infrastructure over the next few decades.
The Preferred Future Scenario, AKA “How we want to grow into the future,” is the result of all those forums, meetings-in-a-box and online input from a little more than 1,000 Lafayette residents who filled out questionnaires and participated in other activities over the last year aimed at digging down to what Lafayette really wants, how we want to grow. And how we don’t.
One thousand people participating in a city of more than 120,000 would suggest a lack of engagement, but who participated is as promising for the future of Lafayette as the plan itself: college-educated young people. Twenty-four percent were ages 25-34, and 40 percent have a bachelor’s degree. In terms of age ranges and educational achievement, the 24 and 40 percents were the largest block in each category. Young, college-educated people don’t participate in planning activities for cities they don’t intend to actually live in long-term; these people are invested in Lafayette and its future. They want a cool town.
The plan a majority of the participants selected is called the “Multi-Center” plan. In short, it’s the proliferation of mixed-use development in pockets spread around the city anchored at major intersections, development encouraged via government incentives but not legislatively mandated: “Build here and incorporate these development concepts and we’ll make it easy for you.” But alas, there will always be strip malls, y’all. Sorry.
The Multi-Center plan also relies on what in planner-speak is known as green infrastructure, that is, large swaths of grassy-leafy acreage that serves multiple roles, chiefly as recreation space and a means of dealing with storm runoff. A linear park skirting a neighborhood as opposed to an ugly cement coulee.
As here’s the really important thing: The plan we’re moving toward encourages the growth of these centers — mixed-use “nodes” (think of River Ranch, though not necessarily as swanky) where residential, commercial/retail, government and schools co-mingle, thus encouraging more biking and walking and less time in cars, which literally taxes us all by stressing our transportation infrastructure — chiefly in the heart of the city, downtown and in north Lafayette. These areas have for decades been neglected as developers looked south for open land at cheap prices.
As densely packed as Lafayette is relative to most other parishes, we nonetheless long followed a typical and ultimately wrong-headed pattern — spread out. Yet lots of wide-open, rural acreage remains in Lafayette Parish, and the Multi-Center plan, if we stick to it, if we fund it, if we decide it isn’t after all a plot by collectivists at the United Nations to usurp private property rights, will preserve that pastoral aspect of the parish by encouraging density — growing in as opposed to growing out. It will protect the rights of landowners and make it cheaper for everyone to live, work and play.
There remains another round of community forums as this general plan becomes The Plan, and the council still has to sign on off it, but just as the diverse political, cultural and economic interests in this community have rallied around our superintendent and his turnaround plan, so too have those diverse interests rolled up their sleeves and undertaken this planning process. It’s a great thing to witness, heat and humidity be damned.
New menu items ready for the Lenten season
The Cane Fire Film Series screens “MaidenTrip” on Monday, March 10, at the AcA.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
The vibe of the tribe done modern
The Louisiana Workforce Commission said Friday that initial claims rose to 2,125 from the previous week's total of 1,964. There were 2,887 initial claims during the comparable week in 2013.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has stalled action on a $3.5 billion annual school funding formula due to state lawmakers by March 15.
The New Orleans Saints have yet to make it official as of this writing, but popular wide receiver Lance Moore has reportedly been cut by the team to free up salary-cap space on the roster.
While two medical marijuana bills are slated for the upcoming legislative session, what some Louisianans might not know is that the plant was approved for therapeutic use by state lawmakers in 1991.
The agenda is shaping up to be lighter than in previous years. But Jindal is term-limited, with fewer than two years remaining in office, and he saw his last big initiative — a proposed rewrite of Louisiana tax law — collapse without getting a vote in 2013.
Sharper has been held without bail because of an arrest warrant issued by Louisiana authorities accusing him and another man of raping two women.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday, March 07, 2014:
Two Lafayette men have been revealed by police as the infamous duo behind a caper that shook our fair city to its core.
She’s the daughter of the legendary Johnny Cash, but she’s been a gifted artist in her own right for three decades, and she’s coming to Lafayette.
The Lafayette Parish School Board has received a second letter of demand related to last year’s insurance debacle, this time from Key Benefit Administrators claiming it’s owed $93,000 from the school system.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
The Louisiana coastline is vanishing faster than mappers can keep track.
A bill that would have overridden local ordinances prohibiting public and private employers from discriminating against lesbian, gay and transgender people has been pulled within less than a week of being filed.
The panel that selects nominees for a controversial New Orleans area flood control board — a board that is suing more than 90 oil, gas and pipeline companies — is set to discuss legislation affecting its independence.
State prison officials cannot keep secret the seller and manufacturer of the two drugs purchased for executions at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
State lawmakers will not appeal a judge's ruling that it was improper to use $3.7 million from a probation and parole officers' retirement fund to balance the state's operating budget.
Prepare yourselves for sun
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Conservatives have been losing their minds over this satirical bit on the Colbert Report.
Due to the chaos of Mardi Gras and the weather, the entry deadline for this year's INDesign Awards has been extended by one week.
The Lafayette Parish School Board leaves a lot to be desired, but is scrapping the election process in favor of an appointed board the answer?
Queen Evangline and King Gabriel ruled Tuesday night
The House approved legislation Tuesday night to roll back a recently enacted overhaul of the federal flood insurance program, after homeowners in flood-prone areas complained about sharp premium increases.
IND Style does Gabriel
Newsy bits for the fam
The NFL has formally designated New Orleans' Jimmy Graham as a tight end for the purposes of his franchise tag value, which is now set at $7.05 million next season unless Graham and the Saints subsequently agree on a long-term deal.