Jan. 2, 2015 01:42 PM
Photo by Robin May

Beautification and public art projects abound on the horizon.

You’ve probably seen by now the public service announcements for Project Front Yard, the LCG initiative backed by local businesses and civic groups to address litter and blight issues in Lafayette.

The $500,000 campaign is a carrot-and-stick approach to one of Lafayette’s most persistent Achilles heels: the first impression we make on outsiders by our laissez-faire attitudes toward roadside litter, junked vehicles, etc. City-Parish President Joey Durel, who launched the campaign in late September with much fanfare, told local media at the time that Lafayette’s litter problem is one of the biggest issues local CEOs complain about.

Project Front Yard is long overdue, and it has teeth: The City-Parish Council in early December amended a pair of ordinances to, A), increase the penalties for littering while also making the offense prosecutable in city and district courts and by local justices of the peace; and expanding the definition of what constitutes litter while also creating new penalties for commercial littering, and, B), enhance the laws governing motor vehicle littering and expanding the power of the law to include litter that flies from a motor vehicle even if it’s unintentional. Pickup truck drivers, we’re looking at you!

That’s the stick. The carrot includes letting local businesses earn PFY designations, an “Adopt a Space” program to foster ongoing tidiness in designated areas, a plan to let the Lafayette Public Trust Financing Authority purchase the seedy Less Pay Motel at Four Corners and redevelop it into a police substation, the planting of hundreds of donated shade trees throughout the city by the705 young entrepreneur group and, whenever feasible, directing Lafayette Utilities System to relocate utilities underground.

Another exciting satellite aspect of PFY is public art.

Lafayette got its first public art in a long time in December at Parc Sans Souci: the YLafayette sculpture — our city’s name, spelled out in 6-foot-tall concrete letters with the Y missing, encouraging park visitors and tourists, arms raised, to stand in for the missing letter.

But there’s much more coming. The Acadiana Center for the Arts is the driver behind a pair of initiatives — the Camellia Art Park and the Lafayette Art Box Project — that will make public art more widespread than ever.

The former is envisioned as the first thrust for creating public art spaces around the Hub City, beginning with the green space lining Camellia Boulevard between Eastland Drive and the Vermilion River bridge. The plan is to eventually have 50 large sculptures installed over the next five years with landscaping and public-park elements.

The Camellia Art Park is loosely fashioned after the Gateway Arch Park in St. Louis, Mo., which connects the iconic arch with the city’s Downtown.

The centerpiece of the Camellia Art Park will be what’s being called the Gridshell Pavilion, a hybrid architectural-usable sculpture designed by UL grad students. It will be located in the center of the park and serve as a gathering place.

The Lafayette Art Box Project is a little closer to the ground: a plan to commission artists to paint the large utility boxes located near major intersections throughout Lafayette.

Both the Camellia Art Park and the Lafayette Art Box Project will be undertaken primarily through private donations, with a little help from LCG.

Says Gerd Wuestemann, the AcA’s executive director: “These are wonderful projects that complement the Comp Plan as well as other beautification projects the city is launching right now.” — WP


Number of retail sales, in billions, recorded for Lafayette in 2013, the highest year on record — a record likely to be broken in 2014

(Source: Louisiana Economic Development Authority)


Percent of job growth in Lafayette between 2008 and 2013


Lafayette’s rank on Forbes list of Best Places for Job Growth


Lafayette’s rank in a list of best manufacturing cities in the U.S.

(Source: New Geography)

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