The Lafayette Parks and Recreation Board has signed off on plans for an ambitious multi-million dollar project that would give Columbian Park’s Memorial Island a makeover that officials say is a long time coming.
"Columbian Park is certainly the most used of all our parks," says Parks Superintendent Claudine Laufman. "It's been mentioned that improvements to Memorial Island certainly are a little overdue."
The master plan by Indiana-based design firm Context features updates to the stage and promenade areas, a boardwalk along the southern lagoon, and a revamped entryway area along Scott Street next to the Rush Pavilion.
Park officials say they hope improvements to the stage area in particular, including increasing access for the handicapped and updating audio and electric equipment, mean more people will visit the island for more than one day a year on Memorial Day.
Context designer Fred Prazeau says the new design will offer more enclosed, private spaces for reflection – spaces he says are appropriate for a park dedicated to the memory and celebration of the area’s veterans:
“We heard tonight a lot of folks talk about how something that honored the veterans, their memories, their sacrifices," he said. "So we needed to do a good job weaving together those solemn and respectful places.”
Officials say they’re looking to help fund the improvements through private partnerships and donations and are planning to unveil the new park in multiple phases.