Volunteers gathered Tuesday night to begin organizing a one-day block party imagining what a little community investment could do for the McComb-Veazey neighborhoods in north Lafayette.
Tina Bingham, vice chairwoman of the McComb-Veazey Neighborhood Coterie, discussed ideas with about a dozen residents who showed up at the Rosa Parks Transportation Center to help plan the event.
“The question is: What’s the change that you want to see?” Bingham asked.
Scheduled for Oct. 24, “12th & Surrey LIVE” is another in a string of Better Block events in Lafayette involving businesses and community services that, for one day, envision how long-established areas could be economically revitalized.
Details are still loose for the event, which is calling for area business owners and community organizations to come together at the corner of 12th and Surrey streets and share their visions for a vibrant neighborhood.
For example, Bingham said she wants “to be able to go in my neighborhood and buy fresh fruits and vegetables.”
Like previous Better Block events on Bertrand Drive and Cameron Street, organizers plan to host local food vendors and merchants, along with family-friendly entertainment. But unlike the prior events — which focused on adding pedestrian and alternative transportation amenities to four-lane roadways with high vehicle traffic — they’ll keep the roads open and host the event in a vacant lot at the intersection.
“We’ve already got strong bones there,” Bingham said of the area’s existing sidewalks and crosswalks on the two-lane roadways.
Organizers also are exploring the idea of showing a free, outdoor movie on the night of the event.
The next 5:30 p.m. planning meeting is scheduled Sept. 1 at the Rosa Parks Transportation Center and will focus on fundraising and communicating with potential participants.
The McComb-Veazey coterie already has been working actively in the community, planting a community garden in August and, before that, beautifying the intersection of 12th and Magnolia streets.
After securing a $1,000 Downtown Development Authority neighborhood improvement grant for the event — only Freetown-Port Rico, McComb-Veazey and LaPlace are eligible — the coterie also is looking to contract a local artist to create a mural at a long-standing butcher shop at the corner of 12th and Surrey.
Plans are for the mural to be painted on the side of the building and to feature portraits of prominent black citizens from the national and local scene. Organizers hope to have the artist paint the mural during the daylong event and have attendees sign the wall, too.
Another city beautification effort is scheduled for a half-mile portion of Johnston Street in a pilot project said to reimagine what a “complete” street looks like: clear of clutter and with amenities for pedestrians and alternative transportation options.
From Cajundome Boulevard to just west of the Horse Farm, the $20 million to $25 million project calls for burying most of the power lines along that stretch and adding medians, sidewalks and bike paths.
The state Department of Transportation and Development committed to funding all but about $5 million toward the project, with the rest slated to come from $4.8 million in leftover federal transportation funds the city will receive after merging its Metropolitan Planning Organization with the larger Acadiana Planning Commission.
Note: This article was changed on Aug. 20, 2015, to reflect that the Downtown Development Authority, not Lafayette Consolidated Government, awarded the $1,000 grant to the McComb-Veazey Neighborhood Coterie for this event.
Follow Lanie Lee Cook on Twitter, @lanieleecook, or contact her by phone at (337) 534-0825.