|From page 14, ECI Final Report, March 9, 2018.|
The Evangeline Corridor Initiative or ECI (formerly called the TIGER grant initiative) began over 2 years ago when the Lafayette government received a planning grant from the Federal government of $300,000, and matched this with an even larger local tax match. This planning effort is deeply intertwined with the Lafayette I-49 Connector's own tens of millions of tax dollars spent for planning. The ECI is now coming to an end, and it is time for the citizens to examine and comment on what we the taxpayers and residents got for our money.
The Evangeline Thruway Redevelopment Team (ETRT) at its March 12 meeting, accepted a draft Final ECI Plan and recommended the plan be made available for public comment. Two public "open house" style meetings (that is, public meetings where the public informed but is not invited to publicly speak) were held on March 21 and 22 to provide the public with information about the Evangeline Thruway Redevelopment Team (ETRT) plans for our community in the area surrounding the proposed I-49 Connector. You can read more about the ECI through their web site which redirects you to their Lafayette Parish government page: www.evangelinecorridor.com
- Have left a written comment at the meeting (see the image of the ECI comment card below).
- Fill out and mail or hand-deliver the ECI comment card which is available in pdf format by clicking here.
- Or, simply email comments to ETRT@lafayettela.gov
Thanks to all who provide their input on this plan.
----------------------------------- COMMENTS BY M. WALDON -----------------------------------
Note to readers - because I included a photo in my comments I must add them here as a blog update rather than simply making them a blog comment. To view other reader comments click on the word "comments" at the end of this post.
There is very strong opposition to the I-49 Connector throughout Lafayette Parish, and this opposition is particularly intense within the ECI corridor. There have been hundreds of citizens who have attended meetings to voice their opposition to this project. Opposition has been intense for a very long time, at least since the first EIS was presented almost two decades ago. Now, the ECI planned projects are presented as a carrot in a final desperate attempt to lure opponents into grudging support. This strategy will not work!
The public is not so foolish that they will believe that suddenly a district that has seen neglect for a century will suddenly become a target for local expenditures. The truth is that nothing in this plan is funded, and no funding mechanism has been identified. We see that the local government can’t be bothered to even maintain the property they already have within the Corridor. Why should we believe that the parish will suddenly have funds for new playgrounds in pocket parks, or even have money to keep the grass cut. Put simply, we are on our own. The I-49 spector reduces property values for Corridor homeowners today, and if it ever is funded for construction, it will destroy these communities and turn them into urban deserts.
We have been assured that if there is strong local opposition the I-49 Connector (we call it the I-49 Con) will never get federal construction funds. If that is the truth, then the Con will never be built.
Therefore, I conclude, the first thing to decide is - Will the I-49 Connector really be built? If yes, then drop all of these projects in the draft final report because there will be no community left to use them. And, if no - the I-49 Con will never be built - then we do not need the ECI. The Evangeline Corridor will bloom with renewed life if this spector of future destruction is removed. Property values will increase, private investment will return, and - note to our Council - tax revenues will grow. Let us hope that we stop spending federal money just for spending sake, and pursue alternative like the LRX, the planned Lafayette western bypass.
My recommendation for the Final Report is to state early and clearly that the ECI report does not endorse the I-49 Connector, and that funding, construction, and maintenance of these projects is in no way dependent on the Con. Alternatively, state clearly that these projects are being proposed to mitigate the tragic destruction of our communities that will result from building the urban interstate through our city’s heart.
- LUS Water Well #10 on Moss St at Park is no longer in production and has been described as abandoned (see attached photo).
- The abandoned Grant Street Power Plant is unsightly and a public hazard from contamination.
At the meetings, residents gave a number other examples with which I was not familiar. In summary, the ECI draft final plan seems hypocritical when we see the apparent neglect received for care of City properties within the corridor.
Again, I thank the ECI team for the opportunity to provide public comment.