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.
As part of a national undertaking known by industry insiders as the “Butterfly Project,” a rebranded version of The Daily Advertiser is set to launch with Sunday’s edition of the Gannett-owned paper.
Louisiana moved up a slot to 48th in the ranking of healthy states — once again, thank God for Mississippi! — so all this frettin’ about Gov. Bobby Jindal’s refusal to expand Medicaid per Obamacare ... fuggidaboutit! We don’t need Medicaid no more!
The Denham Springs woman who placed Christmas lights in the shape of a butter finger on her roof in a display of anger directed at neighbors has doubled the trouble for the 2013 holiday season.
The New Orleans architect behind the 1984 World’s Fair also left his mark on Lafayette.
Laid back vibe just right for NOLA Bowl
The 30-second commercial, to run around the state, is the Democratic senator's first TV spot in her bid for re-election to a fourth term.
It's a number that has edged up but falls far short of the thousands who are eligible for subsidized coverage.
A group of mostly higher education leaders will make recommendations to state lawmakers about how to tweak the policies governing tuition rates charged at the state's public colleges.
Week long specials and a ribbon cutting celebration held in Parc Lafayette
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Fort Worth company's new facility at Lafayette Regional Airport will build helicopters primarily for the export market.
Could River Ranch restaurant be the next star?
Move over Hooters — there’s a new breastaurant coming to town.
Hashtag, retweet, like, share and do whatever else it takes to get in good today with the jolly man in red.
That would be Congressman John Fleming talking about Sen. David Vitter.
The alleged mastermind behind the bribery scheme that went on for four years under DA Mike Harson’s nose isn’t just schizophrenic, bipolar and recovering from mini strokes; he now says he has cancer.
Louisiana's higher education leaders are trying to work out a financing deal to keep the state's public colleges from running low on state cash to operate their campuses.
With their latest triumph, the Saints left little doubt about how tough they are to beat in the Superdome. Unfortunately, two of their remaining three games are on the road.
The festival is scheduled for March 21-22 in New Orleans.
NOLA Bowl ready prints