Lafreniere Park is a tranquil place, nestled in the heart of Jefferson Parish.
It features, a two-mile track, a dog park, and the Robert Deviney Jr. Foundation Center.
But it has not had a music stage since Hurricane Katrina.
“I’d be nice to have a nice big stage over there,” park goer Tony Rodriguez said.
If Al Copeland’s family members have their way, there could soon be a stage built for musical performances — and a statue in the late fried chicken king’s image.
“I think the stage is definitely a good idea, it would definitely add something to the park since that’s not something that they have,” park goer Brooke Champagne said.
The Copeland family has been negotiating with Jefferson Parish officials.
They’ve reportedly offered to pay an estimated $150-thousand dollars to build a permanent stage in the Metairie park; as long as an Al Copeland Memorial Statue is part of the deal.
The initial design proposal included a life-sized statue of the eccentric businessman, holding a box of Popeye’s fried chicken, a checkered racing flag, and a speedboat.
That design was rejected.
“Yeah the design itself was inappropriate as well as the placement. So it didn’t fit with what anybody wanted,” Robert Emery said.
Emery heads the Patrons of Lafreniere Park.
He says all parties are working toward a plan that’s acceptable.
“This is a public park,” Emery explained. “All we’re trying to do is enhance its usability.”
We asked members of the public about the memorial statue.
“Here in the park, I think it’d be pretty cool,” Rodriguez said.
But the idea hasn’t been fully embraced by all.
Some off-camera comments include the words, ridiculous, and disgusting.
“I can maybe understand why, but I don’t think it’s something that’s a big controversy,” Champagne said. “I mean it’s a statue.”
One couple thinks the sticking point is perhaps more about finding an acceptable statue design that would not be disruptive.
“I think maybe a popular stance or what he was wearing will be suitable,” park goer Chris DeJesus said.
Time will tell.
Conversations with the Copeland’s and parish leaders continue.
WGNO News Reporter Darian Trotter asked, “Think they’ll come up with something? Oh they’ll come up with something. Sure,” Rodriguez replied. “I’m sure there’s some money on the table.”
The Parish Council is scheduled to meet Wednesday to vote on an agreement.
If approved the Copeland’s would like to fast track the project, in hopes of having the stage and statue completed this summer.