Jul 29, 2010 7:50 PM by Letitia Walker
Press Release: The Lafayette City-Parish Council will consider a proposal to purchase about 100 acres on Johnston Street from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette for ultimate use as a public park.
City-Parish President Joey Durel offered the plan during a special joint meeting of the Council and Lafayette Public Utilities Authority today. It is part of Lafayette Consolidated Government's proposed Five-Year Capital Improvement Budget that begins fiscal year 2010-11.
According to Durel's plan, Lafayette Consolidated Government will pay the appraised value of the university's land, commonly referred to as the Horse Farm. Community Foundation of Acadiana, a nonprofit organization, will be responsible for raising funds needed for the design, build-out and perpetual maintenance of the property as a public park. The plan calls for a 99-year term Cooperative Endeavor Agreement between Lafayette Consolidated Government and the Foundation for the development and maintenance of the property.
The plan is similar to one that was announced in May 2009.
"The revised proposal reflects the same spirit of collaboration among city-parish government, UL Lafayette and the Foundation, as well as the same shared belief that this land can be a tremendous public resource," Durel said.
Dr. Joseph Savoie, president of UL Lafayette, noted that there has been intense public interest in the Horse Farm property because of its size, location near the center of Lafayette and its natural beauty.
"The latest plan accomplishes what many people, including Save the Horse Farm activists, have requested: a passive park that preserves invaluable green space and is accessible to the public," Savoie said.
The university will place proceeds from the sale of the property in a special restricted land acquisition fund that will be used to acquire property closer to its other campus properties.
Raymond Hebert, executive director of the Community Foundation of Acadiana, said the Foundation "is very excited about being included in this visionary project, which can be a terrific asset for our community. At this point, we are waiting to see how the budget process unfolds."
UL Lafayette received permission last year from the Louisiana Legislature and the Board of Supervisors of the University of Louisiana System to divest itself of the Horse Farm property.
The tract totals 99.465 acres. According to a recent state-sanctioned appraisal, 87.79 acres are usable property, 2.32 acres are a coulee, and 7.35 acres are a Lafayette Consolidated Government easement. There is also a 2.01-acre section that is an isolated piece of the property separated by the coulee and bordering the property of a few residents.
All property agreements among Lafayette Consolidated Government, UL Lafayette and Community Foundation of Acadiana require approval of the Lafayette City-Parish Council.