The 2020 elections saw the culmination of an effort by LWVLFT to secure a second early voting site for Lafayette at the MLK Jr. Multi-Purpose Center, but COVID made ensuring safe elections a necessity. The success of the new site was marred by one factor—the quality of the pavement.
The Center is located in an ARPA qualified census tract and serves economically disadvantaged voters. The Center played a crucial role in the COVID elections by relieving crowding at the main site downtown. The 2020 elections featured the highest ever rate of early voting — a trend likely to continue. There was pre-existing need for the site, but it was heightened by COVID. The Center ended up filling multiple community needs related to COVID and to economic inequalities in the community.
One Saturday, the parking lot was used for both voter parking and food distribution. Medical experts warn of the need to prepare for future pandemics. It seems important to shore up the Center to serve its many functions in the community.
The LWVLFT proposes that LCG allocate ARPA funds to repave the parking lot to the Martin Luther King Jr. Multi-Purpose Center. There is a need to raise the level of the parking lot nearer to the level of Cora Street to eliminate the steep drop-offs, as well as to repair and possibly widen the sidewalks leading to the parking lot entrances. The first entrance toward the busy Cora and Willow Streets intersection particularly needs to be relieved of a sharp right into the street leading to the parking lot, which is treacherous for wheelchairs and pedestrians alike. Other areas of the sidewalk on Cora Street adjacent to the Center are in need of repair. It may be worth adding a turning lane off Cora Street and into the lot. Pavement around handicapped parking spaces in front and back is rough and in need of repair, including the pavement where wheelchair ramps meet the parking lot pavement. The MLK Jr. Center itself also needs disability-friendly, hand-activated automatic doors at both front and rear entrances.
The Price Tag
The Lafayette Consolidated Government funds many such projects and should have a good idea of the cost, which is probably relatively low in ARPA terms.