A new piece of legislation is stirring up some controversy in Lafayette. House Bill 420 would allocate $200,000 from the hotel and tourism industry to restore the historic Holy Rosary Institute. And now some are questioning how that's possible.
It's abandoned, eerie state today is a stark contrast to what it used to be—a vibrant school for black students before desegregation and even decades after. But, there is hope to restore Holy Rosary. And that hope is in a bill, which would redirect $200,000 from a hotel/motel tax.
The bill is backed by Rep. Vincent Pierre, who represents District 44, the area where Holy Rosary is located.
"A large percentage of hotel/motels are here in North Lafayette. So, what better way to funnel those funds than to an area we feel is important to our city?" said Pierre.
And because of its historical significance, Pierre says it may bring more tourism to Lafayette. Developers like Mike Stagg, the Vice President of the Holy Rosary Development, are hoping the century-old building will find new life again.
"It's not just the age of the building, but what it's meant to African American/Creoles here in South Louisiana for the past 100 years," said Stagg.
The main school house closed back in 1993 and since then, the building has been crumbling. But over the past few years, there have been talks of turning it into a community center or museum. But the bill does not specify what Holy Rosary would be turned into, which has Carol Ross, a concerned resident, opposing the bill.
"By the way, that private entity has not said what will be developed," said Ross. "Will it be a healthcare facility? If so, it should not get dollars from the hotel, motel tax."
And because Holy Rosary is a private entity, Ross says developers should apply for a tourism grant, instead of using tax dollars.
"First of all, it's unconstitutional," said Ross. "You're given state, public dollars to a private entity. It's unconstitutional (and) clearly stated in the constitution."