It's been a long time coming, but the folks at Moncus Park are pushing forward for their opening on January 1. But there are ways that some can enjoy the park a little earlier. "It'll be 10 years since the city bought the property from UL and in 10 years, we've put in all of this infrastructure." says J.P. MacFadyen, Executive Director of Moncus Park. He adds, "It's actually really pretty quick, in the hundred years view."
100 years. That's the lease agreement with the city of Lafayette who bought the property, that was then known as the Horse Farm from UL. Because it's a public-private partnership, not only is the park developing faster, but it's also doing it without most tax money. MacFadyen says, "That's a tough message to get out that folks don't realize that this a privately funded park. So Moncus Park is responsible for designing, and building, and maintaining this world class park for the next 99 years."
Phase one is now complete with a four acre lake, Prospect Mound is now the highest elevation in Lafayette at 60 feet. They have over two miles of walking trails, a small dog park, paths and parking.
Phase 2 is already under construction. MacFadyen adding, "Probably the #1 request on the list from folks was are you going to have a restroom." Those are already under construction and will include men, women's and family bathrooms.
MacFadyen also saying "Other Phase 2 additions to get excited for, an amphitheater, an inclusive playground, a tree house, and not just any tree house. Pete Nelson from Nelson Tree House, used to have a show on Animal Planet, has been down a couple of times. He picked a tree, he's designed a tree house. And some of the wood from the old barn will be recycled into the construction."
The other pieces of the puzzle for Phase 2 include an interactive splash pad and the Veterans Memorial. MacFadyen adds, "The whole park has been designed for accessibility, so whether that's the play areas, the walking trails anywhere you want to get to or go to in the park is fully accessible for anybody."
"So, one hundred acres, fifty of which are going to be activated and Christmas. It's like I get a little bit shaky, but I'm excited about it." says Heather Twichell, a New Orleans native, now the Events and Programming Director for Moncus Park. Twichell adds, "For me, I really see this park as an opportunity to create industry. I see it as an anchor for the businesses around here and hopefully to create a strong foundation for ultimately tourism dollars."
And even though it's October she's focused on Christmas! "We have a 32 foot tall Christmas Tree, we have a giant lit up sleigh coming in. We have some reindeer, some elves, we have Santa, snowflakes, we're going to be wrapping the Blakewood Oaks from underneath for a kind of a Christmas wonderland for our kids area." says Twichell.
You will also get the chance to get your shopping done locally! Twichell adds, "12 nights of Christmas will run Dec 16-29. There will be 90 local artisans in our art and gift market, and our farmers market. We'll have local food vendors some craft cocktails for us. And every 4 days we're going to turn over the events, so you'll get three fresh opportunities to to see the park."
If you don't feel like waiting around until Christmas to get an up close and personal look at the park, you should think about volunteering! Macfadyen says, "There's lots of ways to give to your parks, of course we spoke about money, but time is definitely a consideration. We definitely need people out here weeding flower beds and with other projects we have coming up."
For the best way to get involved, plus everything you need to know about the 12 Days of Christmas, visit their website at moncuspark.org.
MONCUS PARK BY THE NUMBERS:
- 8,000 native Louisiana Iris planted and donated by the Louisiana Iris Society
- 100 acres of green space with 26 acres of wooded ravines
- 4-acre, 9 ft deep, lake stocked with 4,000 bluegill fish, bass, and brim
- 10 event spaces to host concerts, exercise classes, weddings and more
- Sustainable rain garden effective at removing 90% of nutrients and chemicals from rainwater runoff
- Outdoor Amphitheater with a 3,000-person capacity
- 2 Hammock Groves
- 2.5 miles of biking and walking trails
- Prospect Mound is 32 ft high and 60 ft above sea level. The highest point in Lafayette
- More than 500 trees planted since 2018
- 378 Moncus Park Members
- 4,279 donations made by community members
- 1,500 hours of Volunteering