LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) — Plans to develop a 208-residential unit complex and city-owned parking garage in downtown Lafayette has created pushback by the city offices that would be displaced by the plan.
A open letter to Mayor-President Josh Guillory and the chairmen of the city and parish councils, Glenn Lazard and Josh Carlson respectively, signed by City Marshal Reggie Thomas and City Judges Douglas Saloom and Jules Edwards outlined their objections to the plan, including that they were not consulted about the planned move.
The plan, which was announced in a press release from the mayor-president’s office on Feb. 28, would develop a 208-residential unit complex, along with a city-owned parking garage, on property which includes property where Lafayette City Court and the Lafayette City Marshal’s Office currently operate.
“It must be unequivocally understood that prior to this release, we had no notification, except
rumors, of this proposal,” the letter read. “We shortly thereafter learned that this proposed agreement has not been approved by the City or Parish Councils and it appears that the Councils learned of this proposal in the same fashion as the Court and the City Marshal.”
Lazard stressed that he would have preferred to not have heard about it by press release and urged Guillory to inform the Council beforehand in the future, according to the published minutes of the council meeting March 7.
“We are not aware of any legal authority for the Mayor-President, in his sole discretion, to lease, sell, or exchange the publicly dedicated City Court location without approval of the City Council, and possibly the Parish Council. Since the Parish Council funds, in part, the Marshal’s and City Court’s operations (which would presumably include the expenses of moving), the Parish Council would seemingly also have to appropriate additional funds for any relocation,” the letter read.
A joint ordinance to authorize the mayor-president to execute the agreement was placed on the agenda at the March 7 meeting. It will likely be taken up at the next meeting, March 21.
The letter stressed that the judges and marshal are not opposed to the plan in principle, and the need for more residential space and parking downtown is a real one, but also that they should be included in planning the move if it comes to pass.
“If the Councils agree that this relocation of the City Court and Marshal is in the best interests of the taxpayer-citizens of the City and Parish, then we look forward to the opportunity to cooperate to the fullest degree possible in making this move,” the letter read.
The building housing the City Court and the City Marshal has served the City and Parish of Lafayette since 1966, with a major renovation in 1998.
“First, and foremost, we believe that the current city court building is, and will for several decades more, remain perfectly suitable for the public purpose that it was constructed, a courthouse,” the letter read.