ACA.northlaf.01.092021

Shytishia "Sam" Flugence, shown speaking to demonstrators Aug. 22, 2020, as they protest the shooting death of Trayford Pellerin by Lafayette Police officers in Lafayette, La., is chairwoman of the North Lafayette Redevelopment Authority.

The North Lafayette Redevelopment Authority, created by state legislation in 2008 to help improve conditions such as housing in a neglected area of the community, was never funded. 

Moments before adopting the 2021-22 budget Sept. 9, the City Council removed $250,000 Mayor-President Josh Guillory had set aside for the Authority.

Board Chairwoman Shytishia "Sam" Flugence went on a Facebook tirade, saying the money represents an opportunity for the Northside "to get its due." The Authority, she said, could use the seed money to obtain millions in federal dollars that could "end poverty on the Northside."

Flugence is rallying supporters to attend Tuesday's City Council meeting. She did not respond to messages left Friday for comment on this story.

City Council members said they will consider restoring the money to the Authority once issues are addressed such as its boundaries and the appointment of a full board.

The North Lafayette Redevelopment Authority board hasn't met since 2016, doesn't have enough board members to comprise a quorum and state legislators are working on possible changes to the Authority.

The last time the board met was Aug. 25, 2016, according to minutes filed with the Louisiana Division of Administration. It fell short of a quorum in September 2016 so it could not meet. Board members quit and terms expired, leaving the group dormant for five years.

in April, state Rep. Vincent Pierre, a Lafayette Democrat representing House District 44, pre-filed a bill that would expand the Authority to include all of Lafayette Parish. The bill, which did not progress, would have given the Lafayette mayor-president's board appointment to the mayor of Carencro and the appointment by the state representative for District 96 would have been given to the Lafayette Chapter of the Louis A. Martinet Legal Society.

Pierre's proposed legislation also would have reassigned appointments to the board from two former City-Parish Council members to two City Council members, Glenn Lazard and Pat Lewis, since the City-Parish Council no longer exists.

Within a month of Pierre pre-filing his bill, Flugence called a meeting of the Redevelopment Authority board. Twice in May the board failed to muster a quorum needed to take action, according to Chad Lacomb with the Acadiana Planning Commission, who attended both gatherings.

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Flugence remains on the board. Appointed by former City-Parish Councilman Chris Williams, her term expires Sept. 30. 

After the Authority board could not produce a quorum in May, Guillory appointed Ivan Ledet to a five-year term on the board, effective Oct. 10, 2020. The City Council approved the appointment June 1, according to meeting minutes.

Flugence and Ledet are the only members on the seven-person Authority board that the City Council Office is aware of, Veronica Williams, City Council clerk, said Friday.

It isn't likely new members will be appointed immediately. Pierre said Friday he's waiting on political districts to be redrawn based on the 2020 Census before moving ahead with his appointment. He and others still are negotiating his proposed bill from April.

State Sen. Gerald Boudreaux, D-Lafayette, said he is not filling his two appointments on the board at this time, either. Boudreaux is not a fan of Pierre's legislation to restructure the Authority.

"I don't think moving the chairs around on the Titanic will change anything," he said Saturday. "It still won't accomplish anything."

At Boudreaux's request, the state senate passed a resolution asking the Lafayette Economic Development Authority to assess and analyze some of the historical problems with growth on the Northside and report its findings to the legislature in early 2022.

Boudreaux said he would like officials to work with stakeholders in the parish on a master plan after the LEDA report is issued. After that, he said, he will consider making his two board appointments.

The City Council meets at 5;30 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 705 W. University Ave. The North Lafayette Redevelopment Authority and its funding are not on the agenda, but the public may comment during a comment period at the end of the meeting.


Email Claire Taylor at ctaylor@theadvocate.com.