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Master plan for Lafayette Central Park includes wish list from thousands of residents

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LAFAYETTE, Louisiana — The master plan for Lafayette Central Park includes a wish list from thousands of residents of what they want to see developed on the 100-acre former Horse Farm property.

The ideas include walking and biking trails, idyllic ravines and ponds, wide-open lawn space, an outdoor pavilion for concerts and plays, and treehouses.

David Calhoun, executive director of Lafayette Central Park Inc., says it's the community's turn to help turn the plan into reality as fundraising begins to jump-start construction later this year.

Calhoun tells The Advocate (http://bit.ly/1A0T2wO ) the first phase of construction could begin this fall — pending fundraising efforts.

Lafayette Consolidated Government owns the property and signed a 99-year lease agreement with Lafayette Central Park Inc. to oversee the park's development, fundraising and management. That agreement goes into effect when ground is broken on the project, Calhoun said.

A formal fundraising campaign likely won't get underway until September to raise the estimated $32 million needed for the first phase of the park's development, Calhoun said. An estimated $15 million is for the construction; another $15 million will remain in escrow for the park's maintenance; and $2 million is for associated construction costs.

The group was waiting to start a formal fundraising campaign until final approval of the master plan, which didn't come from the Lafayette City-Parish Council until last month, said Elizabeth "E.B." Brooks, planning and design director for Lafayette Central Park Inc.

"We didn't want to make any big asks until we got (the plan) approved," Brooks said.

The park has received donations already, but Calhoun said he would not disclose any dollar amount raised so far and didn't plan to release the information in the future so as not to deter any donors from stepping up to contribute.

While he mentioned the possibility of $1 million donations, Calhoun said a major goal of the fundraising effort is for as many residents to give what they can.


Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com

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