Council Preview 8/18: A report on the LUS report, go-cups (again), early voting in North Lafayette, splitting up city and parish parks

Here are the highlights for Tuesday night’s city, parish, and joint council meetings. To view the full agendas click here, select 8/18/2020 from the dropdown menu, and then click on the agenda or agenda item you want to dive into.

A report on the LUS/Fiber report. The City Council will hear from the accounting firm that prepared the forensic analysis of potentially illegal transactions between LUS and LUS Fiber. The report came out last week and largely backed up conclusions already voiced by the administration but in greater detail. It’s not clear yet what the next steps will be. 

LUS’s long-term energy plan. LUS completed its long-term energy plan, and the City Council will vote to adopt it. A primary finding of the plan — called an integrated resource plan (IRP) — is that it’s time to retire the coal-fired power plant that accounts for most of Lafayette’s energy capacity, replace it with purchases on the market or a new generator, and commit to adding more renewable energy to its portfolio. That could mean hundreds of millions of dollars in new infrastructure investments in the not-so-distant future. 

Separating city parks from parish parks. The ordinance in question would require that city-only revenues and allocations under the parks department be separated from parish-only revenues and allocations, thereby eliminating the use of the allocation schedule. In theory, if this passes, it would give the City Council sole authority over how to spend city dollars on city parks. Assistant City-Parish Attorney Paul Escott has questioned whether the ordinance violates Lafayette’s home rule charter —  essentially, its constitution. 

Parish parks may be getting an upgrade. A couple years ago the public voted to rededicate $2 million from the library to parish parks. Now the Parish Council will vote on a plan to allocate $1.8 million for capital improvements at the following parks:

  • Scott Park: $550,000
  • Judice Park: $550,000
  • Carencro Park: $550,000
  • Picard Park: $75,000
  • Duson Park: $75,000

The Parish Council has offered the remaining $200,000 up to help keep open the Northside recreation centers Mayor-President Josh Guillory had slated for closure as a result of his budget cuts. Public outcry is still ongoing in reaction to those proposed cuts, leading to some lengthy council meetings chock full of public comments. 

Speaking of long meetings and public comments. Tuesday features the regularly scheduled open-line public comment section, when citizens can (now literally) dial in to address the council on any topic of their choosing, not just what’s on the agenda. Plus the joint council meeting will include time for public comment on the proposed budget. Public activism is high energy around topics like the Lafayette Science Museum, those North Lafayette rec centers and the Heymann Center. This could be another doozy.

How about spreading public comment out? Right now, both open public comment sessions for the city and parish councils happen on the same Tuesday. The councils will consider a resolution to split public comments. If approved, moving forward the Parish Council will include public comments on its agenda for the first meeting of the month, and the City Council will include public comments on its agenda for the second meeting of the month.

Early voting for North Lafayette. The city of Lafayette wants to pony up the funding necessary to set up and operate a new early voting location at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center to relieve pressure on the only site currently available; the one Downtown at 1010 Lafayette St. is in a building with serious accessibility issues to anyone with disabilities. The addition of an early voting location serving Broussard and Youngsville drew criticism from voting rights groups, who argued that investment came at the expense of addressing access problems in the heart of the city. 

Go-cups, curfews, loitering and other rules for Downtown. The joint council will consider introducing ordinances reinstating limits on the use of go-cups by restricting their use to special events, adding an 8 p.m. curfew for minors. Another would make it illegal to stand or sit on sidewalks for any period of time, a law that could impact Downtown’s homeless population at a time when shelters are full or running out of space.

If you’re surrounded by a city, are you really unincorporated? The City Council will consider offering water service to 4 Eureka Plantation Road. Normally, this wouldn’t be that big of a deal, but while this property is currently in unincorporated Lafayette, it’s landlocked in the middle of the city of Lafayette. 

New detention ponds may be on the way. The joint councils will also consider introducing an ordinance authorizing LCG to start acquiring land and rights of way for detention ponds. The Public Works Department has been evaluating options for increasing the city’s and parish’s capacity for retaining water during rain events and has reached a point where it wants to acquire the land to make these plans happen. It’s not yet clear where these detention ponds will be or how they’ll be paid for.

About the Author

Geoff Daily created FiberCorps and helped launch the Lafayette General Foundation. He now works as a launch strategist.

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