AOC’s demise spelled doom for a community art project.
When the Acadiana Outreach Center collapsed in a heap of financial mismanagement last year and downsized its operations, it left behind a collection of historic buildings at the edge of downtown. But the center also left behind a tangible reminder of its restorative mission: colorful mosaic murals of glass, mirror and tile decorating walls of the main building, known as The Well, and an adjacent structure. The murals were a collaborative, community-art project erected in late 2005 by clients of AOC along with art education students and professors from UL’s Building Institute.
But in January of this year as its financial woes became insurmountable, AOC sold the downtown property to the Lafayette Public Trust Financing Authority, the state-sanctioned nonprofit created in 1979 and tasked with reversing urban decay, facilitating affordable housing and a host of other interests. By spring the group, under the direction of the Louisiana Office of Historic Preservation, began renovating the buildings in an effort to restore them to their early 20th-century character.
The colorful murals were unceremoniously scraped away.
“No one involved with AOC or the campus contacted me at all after the sale about anything, and they left quite a bit of materials and stuff there,” says LPTFA Chairman John Arceneaux. “And after attempts to have AOC finalize everything and remove anything they wanted including their signage, we went ahead and started hauling away approximately five or six dumpsters of stuff left in the warehouses...”
One of the warehouses is already on its way to becoming artists lofts, and Arceneaux says the former Well building will likely become LPTFA’s new administrative office. (The group currently has no brick-and-mortar office.)
Arceneaux says The Well building especially was layer upon layer of shoddy construction and unsafe conditions requiring a lot of rehab, but he also admits that he didn’t realize during the renovation that the mosaic murals might have some community significance. “I really just considered that part of the signage,” he says. “I know now it had some sentimental meaning, but it wasn’t historic and nobody from AOC or any other stakeholders tried to contact me to deal with it or preserve it.”
MAY 22 This post was written the day after the second line shooting in NOLA, by Brentin Mock. Mock is a friend of Deb "Big Red" Cotton, a blogger who was shot in the back and was seriously injured. It is a raw, emotional piece of writing, something the writer obviously felt he needed to get off his chest. But it raises questions that can't be easily dismissed, and might give some insight into where the source of these events truly is.
MAY 22 In this Baton Rouge Business Report post, Rolfe McCollister considers the privatization of bus service in Baton Rouge. After decades of under-funding, it is a mess, and although a tax (partially) passed last year, improvement hasn't happened yet. McCollister apparently feels it is time to let private business get in on the transit business.
MAY 22 This post on Bayou Buzz by Jeff Crouere urges the defeat of a bill that would grant modest pay increases over the next several years to the state's judges and clerks of court. The state is in no position to fund pay hikes, Crouere argues, with the pay increases costing a total of $9 million over several years. It sends the wrong message to the (proverbial) hard-working people of Louisiana, he says.
MAY 22 The Advocate reports here that State Treasurer John Kennedy is complaining about a meeting of the corporation that oversees the state's tobacco settlement. The Governor wanted it restructured, and he has some support, but not a lot. The corporation agreed with his plan, but Kennedy didn't, and it appears that the meeting was noticed in a manner completely different than that of all previous meetings. Kennedy's given to hyperbole, but in this case the fish don't smell too fresh.
MAY 22 In this Advocate story, Carencro Police Chief Carlos Stout says the recent federal indictment of a strip club owner is all wrong. The indictment alleges that drugs and prostitution went on with impunity because club staff made arrangements with "local" police. Stout says it never happened, and while his cops do work security in the parking lot, they're not allowed inside.
MAY 22 This amusing post in DIG Baton Rouge recounts an ad that ran on Craig's List recently; the advertiser was seeking tenants for a Beauregard Town house. He knew his market, and wrote an ad that the most ironical hipster couldn't resist. Apparently, he really did know his market, because the ad worked like a charm.
MAY 22 In this post in The Lens, Mark Moseley comments on the rhetoric Gov. Jindal employed in trying to save his tax "reform" package. One interesting point concerns Jindal's use of his brother, Nikesh, in a little story. Nikesh left Louisiana because of his inability to get a decent job, the story goes, but the story won't hold water: Nikesh lives in DC, which has an income tax level comparable to Louisiana, Moseley says. If income taxes caused the dismal situation, it should exist in DC too. Right?
MAY 22 This post by columnist John Maginnis traces the trajectory of the bill that would fund construction at community and technical colleges -- and bypass the Board of Regents and traditional higher ed funding mechanisms. Sure, it will bust the legislature's self-imposed debt limit, but some leges feel that there's more need (because there is more growth) in the community and technical college area than in the university area, he says.
David Calhoun and Elizabeth “EB” Brooks are the first two employees of Lafayette Central Park Inc., the nonprofit charged with turning Lafayette Consolidated Government’s 100-acre Johnston Street Horse Farm property into a passive public park. Calhoun was named executive director, and Brooks is director of planning and design.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.