A group of McComb-Veazey residents has set its sights on creating a music-centered miniature park in the Lafayette neighborhood honoring such local music icons as Cupid, Clifton Chenier and Buckwheat Zydeco.
The McComb-Veazey Neighborhood Coterie plans to install a performance gazebo, playground equipment and a bus stop bench at 14th and South Magnolia streets as part of the first phase of construction, which is expected to take two months.
Tina Bingham, executive vice president for the community revitalization group behind the park, said the group may plant fruit-bearing trees and plants in the second phase but is open to other ideas.
"We’re asking the community to tell us what they want,” she said. “After we get the first phase done, I think that maybe the community will be able to see the possibilities of what the lot could be.”
Bingham said residents offered a variety of suggestions for the park during coterie events, throwing into the mix such ideas as decorating the park, pop-up food trucks and more cooking classes.
“We have some great programs and different things that we could put in place,” she said. “But now, we’re organizing and putting things together so that we can roll it out for the community in a large and impactful way.”
With the help of the nonprofit Lafayette Habitat for Humanity, the coterie wrote a grant that allowed it to use part of Habitat's property for the park.
Bingham said Lafayette city-parish government will handle contract management for the park's development and will continue to own the property after park completion. The McComb-Veazey Coterie will be responsible for maintaining the park.
Bingham said city-parish government set aside $80,000 to build the park years ago from its capital fund.
“This is money that’s kind of been sitting there waiting for the project to kind of develop,” she said.
The “pocket park,” or a minuscule park created on a building lot for community access, was announced via Project Front Yard, a city-led beautification initiative, as part of a February campaign for reimagining spaces.
Skyra Rideaux, Project Front Yard coordinator, said that group will aid Bingham and the coterie however its members need.
“We’re just an added resource for (the coterie),” she said. “Whatever they need that we can provide, we’re definitely on board.”
The McComb-Veazey Coterie has also tapped Josh Gramlich, a University of Louisiana at Lafayette architecture alumnus, to produce the park, as well as Wells Fargo.
Since its founding in 2008, the coterie has painted a mural honoring local figures that include Helma Constantine, who was instrumental in UL-Lafayette’s integration; Paul Breaux, principal of Paul Breaux Middle School, Lafayette’s first public school for black students since Reconstruction; and the Rev. Anthony Bourges, one of the first black priests accepted into the Diocese of Lafayette. The mural was painted on the exterior of Kirk’s U-Needa-Butcher on Surrey Street.
The coterie also received a $75,000 planning grant from the Kresge Foundation to incorporate food-related projects into its revitalization and has constructed a community garden at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church.
Bingham said the music park will serve as a springboard into larger-scale offerings for its residents, such as financial counseling services and other suggestions from the community.
“We’re just trying to do whatever we can to beautify the space and activate it so we can attract the people and the type of community that really fit the (change) we would like to see,” she said.
Coterie meetings are held the first Thursday of each month. The next meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. April 6 at the Lafayette Public Library Main Branch.