The City of Ville Platte is asking for the public's help in creating public gathering spaces and parks thanks to a non-profit grant.
The nonprofit E Pluribus Unum founded in 2018 by former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu to combat social and racial inequities in the South, selected Ville Platte Mayor Jennifer Vidrine as a member of its inaugural UNUM Fellows class, meeting through 2022.
Vidrine is the only leader from Louisiana to be chosen for this honor among representatives from 13 Southern states.
“Elected leaders play a crucial role in setting the tone for communities on discussions of racial and economic equity because of their ability to change inequitable and discriminatory policies and practices,” said Mitch Landrieu, founder of E Pluribus Unum. “Just a few years ago, I was in a very similar position as Mayor Vidrine. I know what’s at stake, and I know how important it is to have support and access to resources, experts and tools. That’s where EPU comes in—we designed a fellowship program that creates the space for Mayor Vidrine and other local elected leaders to better realize their power to make lasting change, and leverage the invaluable support of peers, expert advisors and community partners to do so.”
According to the city, Ville Platte’s Unity Parks project which is aimed at constructing a centralized public gathering space to be called Gazebo Unity, and a series of “pocket parks,” distributed across the city, will receive up to $75,000 in seed funding for support.
Mayor Vidrine explained the project is an acknowledgment of Ville Platte’s historical racial divide and its own, homegrown attempts to bridge the gap.
“We are accustomed to coming ‘across the tracks,’ literally, to see each other,” said Vidrine. “We need a reason and a place to meet in the middle, to start a long-overdue dialogue and discover what makes us great—together—as Ville Plattians, Louisianans and human beings.”
An annual series of planned community events will follow the creation of the central gathering space and associated recreational areas. Local citizens and groups will be encouraged to participate in the design, use and enjoyment of the new Unity Parks public spaces.
Funding for the project will be held in trust by the Baton Rouge-based nonprofit Center for Planning Excellence (CPEX.org)
Local corporate partners and individuals will be invited to contribute to the funding effort through sponsorships and tax-deductible donations, they say. The UNUM Fellows project planning phase is now underway, with construction of the Gazebo and recreational facilities anticipated to begin in the fall of 2021.
Ville Platte has already announced planning meeting for the project. The first public meeting will be on July 17, 2021 at Ville Platte’s Northside City Park from 11:00 am till 2:00 pm.
Mayor Vidrine is inviting all city residents to attend and learn about the project and provide their guidance and input to its development. Free food will also be served.
For those residents wishing to learn more about the project call: (337) 363-2939
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