It’s wonderful to call Lafayette home! We are famous for our unique French heritage, our food, our music and our friendliness. Unfortunately, Lafayette is not respected for its beauty.
The beauty of a city can be measured. It can be measured by its cleanliness, the quality of its public art and architecture, and the degree to which it protects and promotes the natural environment.
The citizens of Lafayette have requested, during the comprehensive planning process, that attention be focused on its natural resources. Lafayette has achieved the designation as a “Tree City” by the National Arbor Day Association, yet just a few weeks ago, a large urban forest plot’s majestic live oaks were completely removed from a corner at a major intersection directly across from the airport. Many of the oaks gracefully canopied over the roadside and were located on a public right of way. The small, privately owned, island-shaped, corner of this property, which is completely surrounded by roads, and which has little or no resale value, was also stripped of its forested area.
This property is a spot where visitors flying into Lafayette formulate their first impression of our community. Plans for a small portion of the corner include a low-budget hotel, and the remainder of the property is currently for sale. The city of Lafayette landscape ordinance will barely mitigate the loss of these valuable age-old live oaks and green space. When it comes to the beauty and value to society of our landscape, planned landscaping often pales in relation to what is natural.
The question becomes, how can we, the citizens of Lafayette, develop solutions to encourage the protection of the urban forest, especially the beautiful heritage live oaks and other significant species of trees? How can we strengthen the current landscape ordinance to give our city the calming, peaceful, feeling of a small town? How do we improve the natural environment of our roadsides and public spaces such that travelers can enjoy the beauty, pedestrians and cyclists can enjoy shade, and parked vehicles can be protected from the heat of our hot summers? Communities across America and in Louisiana are light-years ahead of Lafayette when it comes to embracing these ideas.
As Lafayette and the region continue their rapid growth, let us all give more consideration to both preserving and promoting the natural beauty of our roadsides, public spaces and private property.
In the coming months, our organizations pledge to work with our local, state and federal government, to request dialogue, to work toward solutions which embrace the idea of preserving the beautiful natural environment in our community. Please join us.
Cheryl Broussard Perret