Thursday, August 31, 2006

Freetown Lost, again! What Next?

As people may have heard by now, at the Lafayette City-Parish Council meeting on Tuesday night, the Capstone Phase II development was approved, once again going against the opinion of the Planning and Zoning Commission. It seems that in this City, when residents and big money disagree, big money will win. This is a shame and should be kept in mind when it comes to election time. Although many members of the Council are term limited, should they have further political aspirations, their treachery should be remembered.

There were few heros in this debacle. One was Rob Stevenson. He was not at the meeting on Tuesday and thus counted as a 'no' vote. As his sided with residents the first time, it seems that he can be trusted. Louis Benjamin also voted against Capstone. He too is trustworthy. As for the rest, draw your own conclusions. One other individual who deserves mention for his strong support of residents is Fred Prejean of the Planning and Zoning Commission.

So, what next? It seems that we have little choice but to learn to live with Capstone. On the plus side, we will have $200,000 to try and mitigate against their impact. One problem that was mentioned at Tuesdays meeting was the fact that the Freetown District Commission lacks any African-American representation. This is an important problem, given the history of Freetown. The Commissioners have indicated that they are very aware of this issue, which is reassuring. However, suggestions about what may be done about this would be very welcome. Please feel free to post comments on this, or any other relevant topic. Another thing that would be very welcome would be concrete suggestions for the commission. Please post these too.

There were a few good things that came out of Tuesday. Capstone indicated that Oats and Hudson, their lawyers, would be happy to handle mail outs and other mundane tasks for the Commission. This is a real help, as this kind of thing is difficult without the right kind of infrastructure.

There is also one clarification, based upon a previous post. At the 'Meet Capstone' meeting, they claimed that they would only make a profit of $300,000 per year from their project. This claim was somewhat skeptically received. However, we have learnt that, after the Council meeting, a Capstone person approached Freetown Commissioner Dr. Istvan Berkeley with a spread sheet print out. Dr. Berkeley tells us that, although his view of the document was short, it did appear to indicate that the $300,000 figure was approximately correct. Actually, the figure is closer to $330,000, but it is close enough. The skeptical may wonder whether this document was a fake. However, we hear that it could have been a candid admission. You decide.

So, by way of conclusion, please think about how we the people of Freetown, as a community, work to mitigate the effects of the Capstone development. Talk to your neighbors. Talk to the Commissioners (they are in the phone book). Freetown has survived for nearly 200 years and has faced adversity before. We will have to work together. However, this situation is one that hopefully the resilience and resourcefulness of the community will be able to deal with, as we have handled adversity before.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can you or anyone hear explain to me why it matters how much Capstone development makes in profit each year? In fact shouldn't the contributor and others hope that Capstone makes a "ton" of money and therefore is able to keep the property in great shape. I never could figure out why ANYONE thought there was "hay" to be made out of how much profit Capstone was making yearly.

9:32 PM  
Blogger Bokiluis said...

Sure, its easy for you to say because you know that organizations like Capstone plays on the ignorance of the residents of Freetown. When I was growing up was owned by several black families, at least the blocks that were predominantly black. The black property owners provided housing for lots of people who could not afford to live elsewhere. But it truly offends me that land developers like capstone have hood-winked the black property owners in selling their property. Had I known that land was going to be "swindled from the black property owners, I would certainly have not sold what little land I had there.

4:48 AM  

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