PlanLafayette week to reveal Hub City’s future
After nearly two years of planning, the future of the Hub City is ready to be unveiled.
The Lafayette Consolidated Government, along with several community organizations, is hosting a series of public events Feb. 5-12, known as PlanLafayette Week, outlining 400 action ideas that comprise the Lafayette Comprehensive Plan draft.
“The plan projects what’s going to happen to Lafayette in the next 20 years and what we need to do to make sure we grow in a way we’re happy with,” said Carlee Alm-LaBar, assistant to City-Parish President Joey Durel.
“One thing that really interests people is that Lafayette is projected to grow by 90,000 people in the next 20 years. The parish only has 230,000 people. Imagine Johnston street with 90,000 more.”
To accommodate this growth, the city-parish government began planning for the future of Lafayette in 2012 and holding forums to gather public input. Three forums were held, a plan was drafted, and now LCG is prepared to present its ideas in a week-long, fourth and final forum.
“It’s a slate of activities, but really it’s about making sure the concepts in the plan get a little more real to people,” Alm-LaBar said. “This whole time we’ve been engaging people; we’ve been successful; thousands have come to our forums. But now is when it gets real.
“Now is when we’re going to ask either the council to change an ordinance or ask people to do things differently,” she continued, “so we want to make sure they’re familiar with the concepts and the plan and how we got there. That’s what the whole week is about.”
The action ideas all fit into four main themes: refine government, revitalize neighborhoods, re-envision natural resources and reinvent the Hub City.
PlanLafayette Week will host a line-up of events for residents to learn about each of the themes and review the comprehensive plan. Events are as follows:
On Feb. 5, Durel kicks off the week with his annual State of the Parish Address at the Cajundome at 11:45 a.m. Registration is $45 per person.
“He won’t talk a lot about the comprehensive plan,” Alm-LaBar said, “but it will be in there, and he will give everyone a preview to the PlanLafayette Week and encourage them to participate.”
On Feb. 6, the Lafayette Economic Development Authority (LEDA) will host a breakfast at 7:30 a.m. at the Cajundome to discuss the “re-envision natural resources” theme of the comprehensive plan. Dana Brown, an environmental expert from New Orleans, and three local panelists will speak at the event. Registration is free.
On Feb. 7, the Lafayette Convention & Visitors Commission will host a breakfast at 7:30 a.m. at Vermilionville to discuss the “reinvent the Hub City” theme. Steve Oubre will moderate a panel discussion between University of Louisiana at Lafayette President Joseph Savoie, Ed.D., and Durel. Registration is free.
“It’ll be primarily talking about how to coordinate the university’s Master Plan with some of the comprehensive plan activities, so it could be really interesting for students,” Alm-LaBar said.
On Feb. 8, the705, a young professionals organization, will host an opening reception and exhibit unveiling at the Lafayette Science Museum during ArtWalk from 5-8 p.m. Attendees can preview aspects of the comprehensive plan. No registration is required.
On Feb. 10, the Downtown Development Authority will host two lunches at 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. at IBERIABANK to discuss the “refine government” theme with Chuck Marone, a nationally known speaker with his own TED talk. Registration is $15 per person.
“(Marone) questions all the rules we have in place that have created our communities and what some of our policies have done to our communities in unintended ways,” Alm-LaBar said.
On Feb. 11, the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Southwest Louisiana Black Chamber of Commerce will host a lunch at 11 a.m. at City Club to discuss the “revitalize neighborhoods” theme. Walter Monsour, president and CEO of the East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority, will speak about initiatives used in Baton Rouge. Tickets prices vary.
On Feb. 11 from 5-8 p.m. and Feb. 12 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., LCG will host the Comprehensive Plan Community Forum Series 4 at the LITE Center Tuesday and then the Acadiana Center for the Arts Wednesday. The forum is free and open to the public.
“At the forum, they’ll be able to review the draft, but the last station will be an opportunity for them to give a little bit of input before we finalize the plan,” Alm-LaBar said.
The week concludes with happy hour at the Petroleum Club from 6-8 p.m. on Feb. 12. The Leadership Institute of Acadiana and the Oil Center Association will host the event and discuss the future of the Oil Center. Registration is free.
Previous forums over the past two years were more input-oriented and allowed Lafayette citizens to share their visions for the future of the city. The third forum presented attendees with four growth scenarios to choose from.
“The one people liked the best was called multi-center, which means we would accommodate our growth by having different centers like downtown, like the Oil Center, in different areas of town – similar to River Ranch,” Alm-LaBar explained.
The multi-center scenario will be combined with another growth scenario called corridor, which will invest in streets such as Johnston Street and University Avenue.
Recommendations in the plan that cost money will be voted on, and if approved, they will be funded through taxes or government savings, Alm-LaBar said. However, some of the recommendations actually involved ways to save the government money.
“Our hope is that some of this can be implemented and funded by thinking differently about how we spend existing tax dollars, rather than immediately saying, ‘Let’s get more money,’” Alm-LaBar maintained.