T H E P EO P L E ’ S PA R K MONCUS PARK, LAFAYETTE IT TOOK MORE THAN A DECADE BUT A LOCAL ACTIVIST FINALLY MANAGED TO SAVE THE PLOT OF LAND WHICH IS NOW KNOWN AS MONCUS PARK
erseverance. That’s what it’s taken to build Moncus Park, a privately funded park in Lafayette, Louisiana which has been 15 years in the making. The park—with massive oak trees, walking trails, and a scenic lake—encompasses 100 acres of green space right in the center of town. It all would have gone to private development had it not been for young activist and urban planner, Elizabeth “EB” Brooks. In 2005, Brooks was studying environmental sustainability at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. In exchange for working 10 hours a week at the campus horticulture center, her friend was living in a farmhouse on the university’s old cattle and equestrian farm when she was abruptly told to leave. The property was being sold. They made a pact to save the horse farm, and now 15 years later, their dream has finally come true.
24 Pro Landscaper USA South January/February 2021
From facing political hurdles to raising more than $15 million; from an oil industry crash, local recession, a devastating flood, COVID-19 and two hurricanes, Brooks has faced more than her fair share of challenges. But she never lost interest, even after graduating and moving away to work in Houston and then attending graduate school at UT Austin for urban planning and design. “My work to save the horse farm inspired my career,” says Brooks. “I didn’t even know urban planning and design jobs existed before that.” The university finally reached a deal in 2012 with the City of Lafayette, which then turned the land over to the new nonprofit conservancy, Lafayette Central Park. “We knew to transform this property into a world-class central park, we’d have to raise the money ourselves,” recalls Brooks. So, she moved home, first as a board member and eventually as the executive director of Lafayette Central Park.