The benches in Lafayette’s Parc Sans Souci were showing signs of age, and the Downtown Development Authority decided we needed something new and something durable.
“So, we thought we’d go a step further,” says Hunter Hebert of the Development Authority, “and make them reinforced so that skateboarders can use them, because that kind of use brings a lot of good energy to the park.”
The planning stage took about five months, says Hebert, but the build-out was quick and was done in about a week. “We partnered with our friends down at Ruckus and they helped us size them,” explains Hebert, “and we kept typical bench height of 16-inches high. They still work as benches.”
“The fact that they came and built these out, and they’re meant to be ridden on helps a lot,” says BMX rider and park enthusiast Brad Soumeillan. “Not getting out here and being hassled by police or doing anything wrong means you can come out here and have fun on your own.”
And another one of the beautiful elements here is that we’ve got a dual-use project.
“We need benches in the park; we’re not taking them away,” says Hebert. “We did bench improvements; in other words, we think these benches look good and the rest of the park is cement, looks natural, and they serve a separate function and brings some energy into the park.”
It appears to be a classic ‘win-win’ scenario, one of those projects that helps multiple groups and their diverse interests.
“I’d like to extend my gratitude for all of this,” says Soumeillan. “I just feel like it will help everybody who lives out here and allow them to keep doing what they like to do.”
Hunter Hebert says he’d love to see more projects like this, though finding the balance is often a hurdle. Here in Acadiana, though, there are definitely possibilities.
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