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CREATE initiative to help fund big projects at Lafayette Parks

Posted at 10:48 PM, Aug 09, 2018

The Lafayette Parks and Recreation department is looking at new initiatives to help fund improvements to their parks.

In November, Lafayette Parish voters passed a tax re-dedication that gave $500,000 per year to the “CREATE” initiative.

Parks and Recreation officials say they would use the money to attract more tourists to sites like the Acadiana Park’s campground.

“See, I didn’t know anything about this park. How did we find out about it?” Beverly Kidder asked her husband, William Gillette. He replied, “I came across it on the face– the internet.”

Kidder and Gillette are from Bosier City and traveled to Acadiana Park in their RV.

Parks and Rec director, Gerald Boudreaux, said this is one of the parks he plans to identify as needing major capital improvements, bumping up the advertising and making the campsite more attractive to tourists.

“Now we don’t have full hookups, which means they don’t have sewage down here. They have water and electricity and some of the electrical is, I would think, needs upgrading because I’ve had some difficulty in the past with it,” said Gillette.

The proposed budget for next year put more than $230,000 in CREATE money towards enhancing the parish’s recreation and tourism.

Any use of the funds will have to meet the restrictions that people voted on and has to be tied to bringing tourism to Lafayette Parish.

“Whether that’s annually at the level we’ve identified, or we go to the bond market and saying we’ve got a much bigger project that we think will draw visitors here that’s going to create the economy or enhance an existing economy around recreation. Then I think that’s money well spent,” Mayor- President Joel Robideaux said to the council in the budget hearing Thursday afternoon.

Boudreaux said this will help out the department because they have more needs than they have money for, like improving the campsite at Acadiana Park.

But whether or not these improvements are made, the traveling couple says it won’t stop them from visiting again.

“But this is our second trip and we will be back because we enjoy the quietness, it’s a beautiful park, it has beautiful trees,” said Gillette.

At the budget wrap up meeting next month, Boudreaux will present a recommended list of improvement projects to the council for them to consider.