Community leaders pushing for more neighborhood-friendly McKinley strip

LAFAYETTE, La (KLFY) – Several organizations are pushing for the revitalization of a stretch of McKinley St. from General Mouton Ave. to Jefferson St. It’s all apart of a plan to build a better McKinley St.

“Known as being a bar district, it has a lot of nightclubs and it has for a very long time, but we’re actually going to re-envision it to try to bring more neighborhood centric kind of activities back into the neighborhood,” said Elizabeth Brooks, Chair of the Freetown Port Rico Coterie.

The McKinley strip was once a popular nightlife area for college students.

“This is probably the most not opened that McKinley St. has been in a long time,” said Kate Durio, Director of Marketing and Events for Downtown Lafayette.

With many of the businesses shutdown along the strip, Durio says she and other community leaders saw this as the perfect opportunity for the ‘Better Block’ initiative.

“Better Block is an awesome opportunity to bring neighborhood members together and also different community organizations to really showcase how better urban development can make better communities,” said Brooks.

Brooks says through a grant from the Lafayette Public Trust Financing Authority, the coterie along with 705 Recover Acadiana are making this event possible. An event that Durio says hundreds of UL-Lafayette students will also play a part in.

“They’re going to be doing things like putting out street trees, painting in bike lanes, and setting up tents, making this area really vibrant and feel very ready for some big changes,” said Durio.

Changes that Durio says area business owners are looking forward to.

“They’re very excited and they actually feel like we do,” said Durio. “They say we do think it’s time to change McKinley St. We do think that no longer catering to the underage drinkers is the best use of this street.”

Durio says they already have a few ideas in mind for the strip.

“Putting in a dog park and a little library,” said Durio.

Ideas that UL-Lafayette student, Samantha Broussard, loves.

“I think that this entire area could probably use something like that, a more friendly atmosphere for college kids,” said Broussard.

Durio says long term they’d like to see McKinley restriped as a two-way street, better walking conditions, and more commerce such as a gym or even a coffee shop.

The public is invited to a series of meetings to voice your input on what you’d like to see done on McKinley St.

The first meeting is planned for Wednesday, September 14 at 5:30-7:30 p.m. The second meeting will take place on Saturday, September 24 at 10 a.m.- 1 p.m. Both meetings will be held at the United Way Early Learning Center at 1515 Jefferson St.

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