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Lafayette Central Park organization raises over $11M toward development of Horse Farm park


LAFAYETTE, Louisiana — The Lafayette Central Park organization says it has raised more than $11 million toward developing the Horse Farm property, putting the nonprofit on track to begin construction on the first phase of the park.

The Advocate reports (bit.ly/1RdnG0n) the money will fund construction of walking and running trails, treehouses, playgrounds, a pond and dog park, a farmers market pavilion, parking accommodations and restrooms.

Other infrastructure will be included in the construction, including a new drive-in entrance off Johnston Street, two parking lots, pedestrian and vehicle bridges over the coulee, and utilities.

"Those things at the very least make a great park," said E.B. Brooks, executive director of Lafayette Central Park.

Brooks said construction is expected to last one to two years and will begin as soon as the permits are secured.

A public fundraising campaign is also set to begin this year, with the goal to raise more dollars to fund additional construction in 2017.

Depending on how much money is raised, that construction could include items such as a ravine garden and an amphitheater.

That number is a "moving target" largely dependent on community generosity during a time of uncertainty in the energy economy, Brooks said.

The rough estimate for building every feature in the park's master plan ranges between $50 million and $60 million, although the extent of the build-out is an unknown.

Still, board members overseeing the park's development expressed optimism for reaching the goal.

"We have been overwhelmed with the generosity of this community, especially in the face of low oil prices. The good news is that many of our business and civic leaders still feel that the impact this park will have on the future of our region is worth their investment," Lafayette Central Park Chairman Lenny Lemoine said in a news release announcing the fundraising figure.

The nonprofit raised more than $2.6 million in December as part of a $1 million matching challenge between donors and the community. Another major contribution came from an anonymous donor who secured naming rights to the space, with additional funds coming in during various fundraisers.

Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com

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