JP MacFadyen, Executive Director of Moncus Park since August 2021, joins Discover Lafayette to discuss the progress made during 2022 to open the park’s long-awaited amenities. Previous to serving as ED, JP served the park as Operations Director for two years overseeing construction and developing processes and procedures for daily operations.
JP is a native of Pittsburgh, PA, and has a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Notre Dame and an MBA with a concentration in Operations from the University of Houston.
After graduation from Notre Dame, he stumbled across a job opening at Rockwell International. He ended up being hired to work as a space shuttle flight operations specialist as Missions Operations Director at Johnson Space Center in Houston. He looks back and says in March of the year he was interviewed, “It was the best time of year visiting Houston coming down from Notre Dame. The weather was warm and wonderful.” And there he landed!
His specialty was onboard propulsion, which meant de-orbiting rockets and the thruster jets that changed the altitude of the space shuttles once they were in orbit. At that time, everything prior to computers was still worked out on paper and his first job was the configuration of checklists for safety procedures.
JP met his wife, Michelle, in Houston while they worked together at NASA. She was an electrical engineer, a Eunice native and a graduate of UL – Lafayette.
JP MacFadyen: “I always say, when you marry a Cajun, it’s not a question of if, but when that you’ll move back home.” In 2005, he moved to Lafayette with his wife Michelle and their four children. The family then opened Great Harvest Bread Co., the first green-certified restaurant in the state of Louisiana. They sold their interest in Great Harvest Bread Co. in 2018 and JP worked as a small business consultant before he joined Moncus Park in 2019 as operations director. He has served as Executive Director since August 2021.
We are thrilled to welcome JP to update us on the many improvements that have been added over the past year in 2022. With the support of major donors, community support, and quality staff, Moncus Park has truly become an outdoor paradise in the heart of Lafayette. More than 230,000 visitors have been to the park since January 1, 2022!
JP emphasized the importance of the leadership of the Co-Chair of Moncus Park’s Board of Directors, Lenny Lemoine, who encouraged the board to go ahead and open up the park to the public early in 2022, even though the construction was not yet complete. Without that leadership, many of the park’s great community events would not have occurred this year. Discover Lafayette sends kudos to JP MacFadyen, Lenny Lemoine, and the entire board of Moncus Park for the gift you have given our community!
Lafayette natives have played a large role in the unique attractions at Moncus. Park. The designer of the water feature which evokes the unique character of our region, Jim Garland, is a UL-Lafayette grad who also designed the unique water feature at the Hilliard Art Museum. Jim’s early works included the design of the water features at the Bellagio casino in Las Vegas.
JP and the team at Moncus have taken great strides to preserve cherished bits of the original Horse Farm. The original wood of the farm is incorporated into the Savoy Family treehouse which opened this year. It offers easy access for children of all ages to enjoy. The treehouse, designed by world-renowned designer Pete Nelson, is nestled within a Live Oak in the new Louisiana-swamped-themed play area.
People always ask, “who owns the park, how was it purchased, and how is it maintained?” Moncus Park is a public/private park conservancy that operates in a manner similar to large parks in other urban cities such as Central Park in NYC or Audubon Park in New Orleans. The city of Lafayette owns the land which it purchased 10 years ago with the plan that Moncus park would run as a nonprofit supported by private donors, including people who are now joining as yearly members. Moncus Park has a 99-year lease but doesn’t get any tax dollars from the city of Lafayette. The State of Louisiana has contributed capital outlay dollars to build the restrooms and to upgrade the Farmers’ Market Pavillion.
Moncus Park officially opened in January 2022. Even though the construction wasn’t finalized, the board wanted to open the park for people, dogs, and kids…the best thing has been rolling down the big hill now known as “Orlando Mountain”….the highest place in Lafayette, 60 feet above sea level. People also love fishing in the ponds, bands playing at events, and quiet time during the day when you take a walk.
The amenities that have been underwritten by local families and corporations have made Moncus Park accessible to all of us. More than 42 free community programs are open to the public year-round, including yoga classes and Healthy Kids Acadiana, which focus on health and wellness, environment and nature, and arts and culture.
MacFadyen says that “Moncus Park looks to create partnerships with other non-profits in three ways: (1) Educate in all things environmentally; (2) Use the park to teach best practices in health and wellness; and (3) Share the many arts and culture in our community.”
- Moncus Park is open seven days a week.
- The Park is open from 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
- The Play Area is open from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
- The Our Lady of Lourdes Interactive Water Adventure is open daily from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
- All unimproved & unlit areas are open from sunrise to sunset.
Today, citizens in Acadiana are well-served by Moncus Park on every day of the week. For upcoming Christmas events, please see the links below for the magical wonderland open to you and your family during December 2022!