According to a post on the Moncus Park Facebook page, the former “Horsefarm” as it is often referred to as, is “an independent, nonprofit Park that relies 100% on donations for our maintenance and operations!” That is a lot to unpackage in one statement! Thankfully, we don’t have a local or national disinformation board to fact check this statement. Instead, using logic and reason, any citizen can review public records and make a determination. Conducting their own evaluation, they themselves can determine whether the statement is true or false.
Independent of what?
The statement begins by asserting that it is “independent.” But independent of what? Oxford dictionary provides a number of definitions for the word independent, such as: “Free from outside control; not depending on another’s authority”, “not supported by public funds” and “not depending on another for livelihood or subsistence.” When the Declaration of Independence was penned, it declared that “…these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be, free and independent states.” Independent of who? Independent of what? They meant independent of England and of each other with each state having full control over its own affairs. Perhaps this is the independence Moncus Park declares. An independence from the governing authority of the City-Parish? And an independence from the civilian taxpayer/voter?
We again reference Oxford dictionary for the ordinary (not legal) meaning of non-profit to best comprehend the message being relayed by the entity. The common meaning of “Nonprofit” refers to “a nonprofit organization” or an organization “not making or conducted primarily to make a profit.” According to the Louisiana Secretary of State “Moncus Park” is not a non-profit corporation or even a corporation at all. It is a trade name registered to Lafayette Central Park, Inc.
What is Lafayette Central Park, Inc.
Lafayette Central Park, Inc. is a non-profit corporation registered in February of 2013 to do business in the state of Louisiana. According to the Louisiana Secretary of State its registered agent’s are J. P. Macfadyen, Executive Director, and Charles A. Landry, Attorney at law. If Landry sounds familiar it is because he is the Baton Rouge attorney who proudly advocates for and represents many of the Economic Development Districts in Lafayette Parish. According to their secretary of state filing from earlier this year, there are several other notable names that serve or have served on the Board of Lafayette Central Park, Inc. including, Joey Durel, Gregg Gothreaux, Hunter Perrett and Leonard Lemoine.
Their most recent form 990 filed with the IRS (2019) shows then board members were not compensated directly for their participation. However, it is not known if that’s changed or whether the Board members are compensated indirectly. Remember, they are independent! They don’t answer to you and me.
Who owns the park?
The private organization Lafayette Central Park, Inc. owns the name of the park “Moncus Park,” but who owns the actual property? The property commonly known as the “Horsefarm” located at 2913 Johnson Street in Lafayette was acquired for development on or around July of 2012 from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette for $6,611,000.00. Of that sum $5,803.000.00 was to be paid in cash. For the remainder, ULL was to obtain “Youth Park” owned by the City of Lafayette. Youth Park was the home of the skatepark previously known as the “Dust Bowl.” It was demolished in 2018 leaving Lafayette without a skatepark. No worries folks! The government eliminated the skatepark, creating demand for another skatepark and now has a plan to bring you another skatepark at an estimated cost of $250,000.
Back to Moncus Park… Despite rumors to the contrary we were unable to locate any evidence in the public record indicating that ownership of the property is held by anyone other than the City of Lafayette, In July of 2013, one year after the purchase of the Horsefarm and less than six months after the creation of Lafayette Central Park, Inc. then Mayor-President, Joey Dural, entered into a lease agreement. According to the agreement, Central Park must pay rent on the 100 acre (+/-) tract of land. While the rent does increase incrementally over time the amount of rent for the first ten years comes out to $100 per month. Additionally, “Central Park may have the ability to raise funds and provide resources to provide the City of Lafayette with the Development of a Park on the Property.” Central Park is also obligated to make improvements to the property totaling at least $6,800,000.00 at its “sole cost and expense.”
But who will fund the improvements…
The same people who will fund the roads you silly rube! YOU! Did you really think Lafayette Central Park, Inc. planned on using their own money when they agreed to make improvements at their “sole cost and expense?”
Ever since its inception Lafayette Central Park, Inc. has been reaching into the tax payer coffers to fund its adventure. Examples include request and/or receipt of funds including but not limited to as follows:
So when Lafayette Central Park, Inc. stated they were “an independent, nonprofit Park that relies 100% on donations for our maintenance and operations,” they may have meant they were independent from your input and influence. They may have meant they are a non-profit entity in the legal since. They may have meant that they rely 100% on donations to support their 12(+) staff members, including an Executive Director whose benefit package exceeds six figures. However, they never once mention that donations support construction and improvements. That burden falls on you – the tax payer!
If we’re not watching them, who will?
Citizens for a New Louisiana is the only organization in Louisiana dedicated to reforming local government. With the help of numerous volunteers we are making some progress. However, there’s much more work we could be doing. Making a difference will take a little more than reading an article every now and then. Your community doesn’t need another spectator. They need someone willing to step onto the field and become a real part of the solution. Will you join us?