Residents air views on Lafayette Horse Farm

Residents who attended a Wednesday forum for public input on the Lafayette Horse Farm largely see the future park as a respite from urban life.

That’s why attendee Michael Patton, who grew up near the 100-acre site and remembers playing on the property, said he does not want to see any of the park paved.

The meeting, held at the South Regional Library, was one of six public forums scheduled this week to give residents an opportunity to offer input on what the park will resemble when it is complete.

The first series of public forums determined what kinds of activities and programming would be offered at the future park.

The list includes a visitor center, a bridge, games, a playscape for children, a dog park, ponds, a farmer’s market, gardens, a “great” lawn, an interactive water feature and nature trails.

Lafayette resident Justin Price, who also attended Wednesday’s meeting, said he would like to see any buildings planned for the site located on the front end of the property along Johnston Street, leaving the natural and less intrusive park features for the rest of the site.

The buildings in front, he said, could potentially provide a sound barrier for the park.

Kurt Culbertson, CEO and board chairman of Design Workshop, the firm hired to prepare the future park’s master plan, told attendees that creating a world-class park could mean bringing “one spectacular element” to the site, such as an iconic sculpture, an iris display or an orchid house.

It could also mean transferring the Ira Nelson horticultural center currently located on Johnston Street to the Horse Farm, making a new home for its horticultural displays.

Meeting attendees were highly supportive of building islands in the ponds planned for the park, envisioning the islands as ideal spots for events and weddings.

Lafayette Central Park, the nonprofit overseeing the Horse Farm’s development, has set a fundraising goal of $30 million in private funds for the project, with half of that money set aside for maintenance and future programming.

Culbertson said although not all residents favor activities such as miniature golf at the park, they should consider that mini golf generated $350,000 in revenue for City Park in New Orleans during the first four months of operating there.

Another series of public meetings is planned for late April or early May to discuss the preferred master plan and park operations and maintenance.

The last of this week’s public forums is scheduled Thursday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the South Regional Library.