More discussions held on what to include in Lafayette’s Horse Farm

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- Leslie Leonpacher writes an idea for the design of the horse farm during a workshop at the LITE Center Tuesday in Lafayette. The workshops are now in their third round. Show caption
Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- Leslie Leonpacher writes an idea for the design of the horse farm during a workshop at the LITE Center Tuesday in Lafayette. The workshops are now in their third round.

Officials hold final forums on residents’ wishes for proposed park

Officials with Lafayette Central Park Inc. burrowed further into residents’ wants and wishes Tuesday during two final forums to gauge more specifically what should be included at the proposed 100-acre Park at the Horse Farm.

Central Park officials will present a more detailed, but not yet final, plan Dec. 17 to Lafayette City-Parish Government for its input.

“What we’re trying to get to is a general plan,” said Kurt Culburtson, chief executive officer with landscape design firm DesignWorkshop, a firm that’s taking a lead role in the park’s design.

About 80 people attended the forum at the LITE Center on Tuesday.

The attendees voted on their park preferences, such as whether to build an amphitheater.

The results of voting at the LITE Center and at a forum at the South Louisiana Community College auditorium should be available at lafcentralpark.org by Wednesday, said Elizabeth “E.B.” Brooks, the park’s director of planning and design.

Tuesday’s results will be winnowed and carved into a more comprehensive plan that City-Parish council members will see in mid-December, and will be incorporated into the final plan before construction begins in late summer 2014, Culburtson said.

Some of the options voted on Tuesday: whether to concentrate buildings and features at the park’s Johnston Street front, or spread them out across the park’s acreage —most wanted it spread across the park — and whether to have a dog park — 54 percent were against that idea.

Other choices to be decided include the kind of events, or programing, there will be. One in four participants supported disc golf, often called Frisbee golf, and 22 percent supported equestrian events.

Tuesday’s forums followed others conducted in October and December. The multiple choice selections offered to attendees Tuesday were crafted from the results of the earlier forums, Culburtson said.

Lafayette Central Park Inc. struck a deal with city-parish government earlier this year to oversee design and take over operation of the park, situated on land that city-parish government bought from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

The land housed the university’s horse farm.

It will take millions of dollars to build the park, which officials plan to get through fundraising. But the harder financial burden might be the year-to-year dollars needed for operations, said Tim Marshall, of the New Jersey management and design firm ETM Associates LLC.

Marshall said raising millions of dollars for capital spending on buildings “is a little easier because it’s sexy” and offers donors a chance to get buildings named after them and their families.

Operational costs never cease and must be met head-on with steady revenue from building rentals, weddings, bar mitzvahs and bat mitzvahs, and educational classes.

Marshall offered as examples the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center, and Madison Square Park in New York City.

Both, he said, are successful because of programs that educate and facilities that are in demand by a paying public.