George Rodrigue Park construction underway

Paul, David and Chandler Allain, architects for the project, stand at the site of the future George Rodrigue Park Thursday afternoon.  Construction is underway for the pocket park located along Bayou Teche on Main Street in downtown New Iberia.

After years of waiting, construction is finally underway on Main Street as downtown New Iberia makes room for the new George Rodrigue Park.

The park, originally a city project that has been helped along by several grants and donations, will not only be another place for recreation downtown, but also will honor New Iberia native George Rodrigue.

Known internationally for his Blue Dog paintings, Rodrigue made Acadiana’s life and culture a core part of his work. Rodrigue died in 2013 of cancer, and New Iberia has put on several events to honor his memory since then.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the park was held in February, with Gov. John Bel Edwards and former Gov. Kathleen Blanco among those attending the event.

The pocket park is set to include an 8-foot sculpture of the Blue Dog, a central figure in many of his works, inside the park for motorists and pedestrians in downtown New Iberia to see.

New Iberia Mayor Freddie DeCourt said the work, which is being conducted by Abbeville-based Minvielle Lumber Co., is on schedule and also includes renovations to the Doc Voorhies Wing of the Bayou Teche Museum adjacent to the park.

The park comes as one of many downtown New Iberia projects that are being conducted by city government. A few feet down and across Main Street from the future George Rodrigue Pocket Park is Church Alley, which thanks to a state grant was renovated to include lighting, benches and signage for downtown travelers to relax.

The Rodrigue park also abuts the Bayou Teche. Plans are to install a marina and kayak boat launch there in the near future.

Among the donors to the park is the New Iberia Optimist Club, which donated $30,000 last year for a structure to be installed in the park for local artwork.

“I’m excited. We’re pleased with it so far,” DeCourt said Thursday.

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