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.
WaPo Watergate editor Ben Bradlee dies; Clintons stump for Dems; Liberians stranded and more national and international news for Wednesday, October 22, 2014.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Law firm unveils newly renovated 200-year-old building.
UL grad named web developer at BBR Creative
Lafayette-based emergency department staffing and management company raises $120 million in senior credit facilities through GE Capital, Healthcare Financial Services.
High-rise apartment building, parking garage, hotel and retail part of new development.
A common thread runs through many of those we oppose: Enshrining in the Constitution protections on programs and their funding sources has had a disastrous effect on Louisiana’s most important economic development engine.
"I am extremely disheartened by the political machines that are attempting to hijack my efforts along with others that advocate for children."
Landrieu, who is fighting to keep her seat for a fourth term, said that Ebola is serious and precautions should be taken, but she accused Republicans of using the virus outbreak in West Africa to "create fear" here at home.
The number of Louisianans with jobs continued to set records in September, but the state's unemployment rate kept rising as new job seekers keep entering the market.
Three bedroom cottage or three bedroom ranch
Sheer lace perfection
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Louisiana is drowning, quickly.
Law enforcement agencies are participating in a "Louisiana Heroin Summit," designed to address the recent rise in heroin use and drug-related deaths around the state.
State education officials are preparing to release performance scores for public schools and public school districts.
Saints coach Sean Payton is starting a new week by emphasizing, repeatedly, the many good things he noticed during New Orleans' latest loss.
We will be offering our recommendations on the constitutional amendments tomorrow.
Three bedroom in Lawtell or two bedroom in Rayne
Fall's new darling
The justices did not comment in leaving in place lower court rulings that dismissed the lawsuits against BP and other companies involved in the worst U.S. offshore oil spill.
White registration is down by 7,700 voters while black registration has shot up by 7,100 voters.
Even though it had been rumored for months, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu finally pulled the trigger recently on a major campaign shakeup that moved control over to a few Big Easy insiders.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Louisiana's health department says it will seek law changes to stop billing sexual assault victims for exams and tests.
An investment group led by Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets will buy the Louisiana power company Cleco for $3.4 billion.
It wasn’t the historic slashes to higher ed funding or the ensuing tuition spikes that recently had LSU’s student body and faculty riled up in collective outrage.
"I feel it is appropriate to speak up when there are topics that are being bandied about with little or no factual data to back them."
Will $400 be enough for the re-election campaign of LPSB's Hunter Beasley to overcome two years of holding our school system hostage and hurting the education of our children all because of a personal dislike of the superintendent?
Saints tight end Jimmy Graham said Friday he expects his playing status in Detroit to be decided by coach Sean Payton on Sunday, shortly before the game.