A pair of Lafayette parks on the Vermilion River could be see major renovations that would include a swimming pool, boardwalk and amphitheater based on early designs unveiled Thursday.
During a community meeting at Heymann Park, architects commissioned by Lafayette Consolidated Government laid out their plans to reconstruct the parks, which span dozens of acres on either side of the river near the Lafayette Regional Airport and the Evangeline Thruway.
The plans were developed from a pair of community meetings and an online survey done earlier this year, and they include greater opportunities to interact with the Vermilion River, as well as a proposed swimming pool and amphitheater for Heymann Park.
“We came here, and we overwhelmingly heard swimming pool. That was a really great input,” said Tara Green, principle of program development for OBJ, the architecture firm hired by LCG to redesign the parks.
“We heard about nature and connecting to the river. That’s a common denominator for all of our conversations, whether they be in person or online.”
Although a massive proposal that included boardwalks, pedestrian river crossings, expanded tennis facilities and the swimming pool was unveiled Thursday, the actual details of the parks’ redesign are still subject to change, whether through community input or funding limitations, becausethe proposal could tally tens of millions in costs to build.
“We have not gone through a pricing exercise yet. And that’s our next, kind of, strategy with the city is to do that. This is strictly a master plan and big visioning at this point. We’ve got to be able to pay for it,” OJB Partner Chip Trageser said.
To that end, OJB’s proposal includes selling off some of the existing park land to developers for housing prospects, primarily along the northern boundary of Heymann Park outside the 100-year flood zone.
“We did that in a park in Houston, where the city actually did a land lease with a private developer. We did 100-year land lease, and they take that money and they put it back into the operations, the programming of that park, at a million dollars a year,” Trageser said.
“That’s one strategy. The other strategy is we could parcel it out, physically sell it to a developer to build the homes, so I think there’s a number of ways we could look at it, depending on what we think that use actually wants to be.”
Other means of offsetting the cost of such a massive rebuild could include a proshop at Beaver Park, a farmers market in Heymann Park, food truck spaces and even small restaurant operations within the park to help boost revenue, based on OJB’s proposal.
While the project is far from breaking ground, Trageser said that once the design is finalized, the build out for the massive renovation would likely be in the ballpark of 2.5 years.
“Normally on a project of this magnitude, there’s probably a year of design and documentation,” he said. “For instance, on Heymann Park, projects we’ve done that size usually take about a year and a half to construct. It’s a long timeline, probably around a 2.5 year project, from start to finish.”