LAFAYETTE — Some in the community are rejoicing after learning the four recreation centers that were slated to close will remain open.
Mayor-president Josh Guillory announced Thursday he is reversing the decision to close the recreation centers on the north side.
The chief executive officer of a youth group, which utilizes the Domingue Recreation Center, says the centers are the heartbeat of her organization.
"When they told me the facilities would remain open, I knew that our program would continue," said New Vision Leadership CEO Erica Williams. "There are a lot of kids that depend on this facility. This is not just a brick and mortar building for them. This building has changed so many lives, and I've seen those lives change right before my eyes."
Williams has lead the New Vision Leadership Youth Group for the past six years.
Before the pandemic, the group met regularly at the Domingue Recreation Center. They prepared and shared meals, learned new skills, and hosted community-wide events, which has transformed some lives.
"We have a lot of diamonds in the rough that are running around this community, and we just have to be able to grab them and bring them into a facility like this, so we can really educate and impart wisdom," said Williams.
Thursday night's reversal, however, does not bring back the 37 employees who are being terminated.
"That doesn't mean all of them are going to be out of LCG," explained Guillory's chief communications officer, Jamie Angelle. "We're going to look at opportunities to try to put them in different positions within Lafayette Consolidated Government. There may be some part-time opportunities that come up as well."
Although the fate of those employees still remains unclear, one thing is for sure; Williams says her group will continue to thrive.
She trusts that city leaders will keep their word.
"Because they opened up the door and started to really have true conversations about the facility and what it means to the community, I'm trusting that in the future, if we ever come to this situation again, that [Guillory] will reach out to us and start to talk to us and build the conversation," said Williams.
The youth group CEO says although the group is meeting virtually right now, the mayor-president has an open invitation.
City councilman Glenn Lazard has proposed an amendment to the parks and recreation department's budget.
If it passes, the 37 employees set to be laid off would be able to keep their jobs.
The proposal would increase the budget by $3.5 million with money from the city's general fund.