Control of Foster Park up for grabs
LAFAYETTE — An agreement that would transfer control of Foster Park from Lafayette to Youngsville faces an uncertain future.
The park is in Youngsville but controlled by Lafayette, and the Lafayette City-Parish Council on Oct. 15 shot down the transfer agreement, which would have also opened the door for a portion of the park to be used as a new playground for Green T. Lindon Elementary school.
The sticking point has been whether Youngsville will maintain the property as a park and whether the Broussard Youngsville Youth Association will be allowed continued use of the park for youth sports.
A revised agreement is coming back before the City-Parish Council on Tuesday — one that includes provisions that call for the property to remain a park and for BYYA to have continued access — but Youngsville Mayor Wilson Viator said the prospects don’t look good.
“We put some language in there that protects BYYA, but I’m still told I don’t have enough votes,” Viator said.
Supporters of the transfer argue, among other things, that it would relieve Lafayette from the financial burden of park maintenance while allowing Youngsville more oversight of a park within its city limits.
But some City-Parish Council members are still reluctant to hand over the reins of the 16-acre park.
“I can’t give up my responsibility to Youngsville,” said City-Parish Councilman Jay Castille, who was among six councilmen who opposed the original transfer agreement.
Castille said he also plans to vote against the revised agreement because he does not believe it legally locks Youngsville into maintaining the property as a park and allowing access to BYYA.
“I look at it as a good-faith effort on the part of Youngsville, but there are still no guarantees,” Castille said.
Viator said he has been frustrated with the complications of the proposed agreement and said his main goal is not necessarily to secure the park for Youngsville but rather to pave the way for some of the property to be used for Green T. Lindon.
The Lafayette Parish School Board is planning a major expansion at the crowded elementary school, which is next to the park.
The School Board owns enough land to expand the school building, but Viator said Youngsville had planned to allow a portion of park to be used for a playground and possibly additional parking for the school.
“The only reason I’m fighting for it is to get additions to a school that are desperately needed,” Viator said. “They won’t have any playground for the kids and very little parking.”
City-Parish Councilman Jared Bellard opposed the original transfer agreement and said he is still a bit wary about the new one.
If the school expansion is the main issue, he said, then perhaps Youngsville, the School Board and city-parish government can hash out a more limited agreement that addresses only the area considered for the school playground and not the remainder of the park.
William Theriot, who represents the Youngsville area and was one of only two councilmembers to support the transfer agreement on Oct. 15, said he believes the revised proposal offers adequate assurances that Foster Park will remain open in the near future.
He noted that regardless of whether the City-Parish Council approves the new agreement, neither Youngsville nor Lafayette have much say in the long-term future of the park.
The land is being leased from private company, Young’s Industries, and the lease expires in 2025.
“We can’t tell the owners of the property what they can or can’t do with the property,” he said.
Meanwhile, Youngsville is moving forward with plans to open a new 70-acre recreational facility next year off Chemin Metairie Parkway.