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'Meeting in the Park' on closing of rec centers held today

Posted at 8:46 PM, Jul 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-20 10:18:02-04

LAFAYETTE, La. - A "Meeting in the Park" on the closing of four recreational centers in North Lafayette was held today.

The event will took place at Heymann Park.

"I don't know what we're taking away from the people in our community," said Gerald Boudreaux, a state Senator who recently retired after more than 40 years with the Lafayette Recreation and Parks Department.

Dozens of people attended, calling on Mayor-President Josh Guillory to reverse his decision to close four Northside recreation centers.

"Those I worked under had a vision for Lafayette, not a vision of Washington DC they wanted to grow Lafayette," Boudreaux said.

Parish Councilman A.B. Rubin, who represents the Northside, disputes the reasons Guillory has given for closing the facilities.

"He sent me a text at about 7 pm talking about, Heymann Center doesn't have any bleachers... I hate to tell you, but Girard Park doesn't have any bleachers either..." Rubin said.

Former council member Kenneth Boudreaux, Gerald Boudreaux's brother, also challenges Guillory's claims.

"The facility we stand at today, is if not number one, it's the number two revenue-generating facility as it relates to the rental of special events. This is not about economics," he said.

Others at the event cried foul at Guillory's claim that he didn't mean to harm any particular group of citizens.

"We understand that 40 percent of the people voted, voted for someone other than Josh Guillory, and those are African American; the other 60 percent, that did go to Guillory, were not black. We understand now, seeing that all our of recreation centers are being shut down on this side of town, it is a direct attack," said Devon Norman, chair of the Young Adult Committee of the NAACP.

"This is a disservice to this side of town, they may think they are trying to destroy us, but we are God's children. We will rise," said Debra Phillips-Williams, Lafayette resident.

Organizers of this rally urged the crowd to attend Tuesday's council meeting to call on the council to keep the four rec centers open.

"We need everybody who is here today, to be there Tuesday. Even if you can't get in the building, there is plenty of space outside," Kenneth Boudreaux said.

Guillory announced in a video address on Friday that he will close four recreation centers in North Lafayette in the coming budget year and eliminating at least 37 positions in the Parks and Recreation Department. Since then, statements have come out of his office daily which appear aimed at attempting to justify that announcement. Read about that here.

The four recreation centers slated for closure are in the northern portion of Lafayette Parish: Domingue Recreation Center, Heymann Park Recreation Center, J. Carlton James Activity Center and George Bowles Activity Center.

There is now a petition calling for Guillory to reconsider. You can find that petition HERE.

Lafayette NAACP President Marja Broussard created the petition Saturday morning, and as of Sunday evening, it has reached more than 3,000 signatures.

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