Lafayette, LA - The University of Louisiana, Community Foundation of Acadiana, and Lafayette Consolidated Government are pleased to announce their collaborative effort to dedicate nearly 100 acres of university property on Johnston Street, known as The Horse Farm for the development of a passive public park, preserving its natural beauty for use as walking trails, bike paths, gardens, green space and uses other than organized sports areas.

The Horse Farm, University of LouisianaThe group is working with potential donors to secure a $5.7 million lead gift to make the project a reality. The Foundation anticipates establishing a campaign to raise money to match the lead donation. Funds raised will be dedicated to the design, build-out, and perpetual maintenance of the property. 

Once matching funds have been raised, the Foundation plans to purchase the property from the university at its $5.7 million appraised value. Community Foundation of Acadiana will then own the property and intends to work with Lafayette Consolidated Government on a cooperative endeavor agreement defining the responsibilities of both parties.

The university will place proceeds from the sale of the property in a special restricted land acquisition fund that will be used to acquire property closer to its other campus properties.

There has been much public interest in preserving this large green space near the center of the city.

“The university recognizes this as a unique opportunity to partner with benefactors, Community Foundation of Acadiana, Lafayette Consolidated Government, and local residents to create an invaluable community asset with the Horse Farm property,” said UL President Dr. Joseph Savoie.

“This is a very special tract of land because of its size, its location in the center of Lafayette and its natural beauty,” added Savoie. “Local citizens, including Save the Horse Farm activists, are passionate about this property, feel some ownership in its preservation, and have expressed a strong desire for a park. So, if given the authority to do so, the university will respond to the community’s wishes and facilitate the creation of a passive park,” explained Savoie.

“Community Foundation of Acadiana is excited to partner with the university and Lafayette Consolidated Government,” said Community Foundation Executive Director Raymond Hebert. “Initiatives that allow us to engage philanthropists to improve the community are at the heart of our mission, and we are honored to play a role. As an independent body, we see our role as facilitating the development of a space which highlights the tranquility of the property, improves our collective quality of life, and brings the community together,” added Hebert.

Before the university can sell state-owned property, it must obtain legislative approval. A bill was introduced this legislative session by Representative Joel Robideaux that would grant the university the authority to divest itself of the property. If passed, the university would then have to seek approval from the Board of Supervisors of the University of Louisiana System before it can complete the sale of the property to Community Foundation of Acadiana.

The Horse Farm property totals 99.465 acres. According to a recent state-sanctioned appraisal, 87.79 acres is usable property, 2.32 acres is coulee, and 7.35 acresis a Lafayette Consolidated Government easement. There is also a 2.01-acre section that is an isolated piece of the property separated by the coulee and bordering the property of a small number of local residents.

Lafayette Consolidated Government proposes to swap Youth Park, which is approximately 8 acres of property located at 1919 Johnston Street, adjacent to the southwest corner of the university’s main campus, for the 7.35 acres as part of the agreement. The LCG fire station on this property and all park activities will continue at this location for the foreseeable future. All property agreements among Lafayette Consolidated Government, The University of Louisiana and Community Foundation of Acadiana will require approval of the Lafayette City-Parish Council.

“The announcement of this agreement is another important step in our collaborative efforts to preserve The Horse Farm as a central park for our community. There is exciting and historic work to be done,” said City-Parish President Joey Durel, who has been working with all parties involved in this project for more than 3 years.

“This is something that we will enjoy today and for generations to come. It is going to immeasurably impact the quality of life of the citizens of Lafayette Parish and all of Acadiana. It will further our efforts to make Lafayette a great place to live and raise a family. We are fortunate to have people from our area that are so giving and recognize the importance of preserving green space such as The Horse Farm. I am grateful to UL and this project proves the fact that we have a university that recognizes its role in shaping our community. This will also be a better project because of Community Foundation of Acadiana and it shows why we should support such a wonderful asset,” Durel added

A Design Review Committee, composed of representatives from Community Foundation, expert designers, the university and Lafayette Consolidated Government, expects to engage the community in a series of charrettes, or public meetings, to brainstorm and create the details of the property’s features that will be included in the project. The property will retain many of its existing natural qualities, enhanced by features like walking trails, bike paths, and green space for relaxation. Special attention will be given to the privacy of residents of neighborhoods that border the Horse Farm property.



Last year the ultoday staff did an interview with Elizabeth Brooks, co-founder of the Save The Horse Farm Group, it can be read here.

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