Joel Savoy and Patricia Dossman talk about renovating the Liberty Theater in Eunice. (Photo by Harlan Kirgan)
Aldermen approve Liberty revival
The Liberty Theater is poised for a renewal after the Board of Aldermen approved Mayor Scott Fontenot to complete an agreement with a non-profit.
Cajun musician Joel Savoy spoke at the Tuesday’s Board of Aldermen’s meeting. Savoy leads The Association for the Liberty Theatre of Eunice.
“We all know what the Liberty used to be like. What it did for downtown Eunice and the Cajun culture,” Savoy said. “Last October, I learned that the National Park Service had pulled the plug or was about to pull the plug on their years of support at the theater...”
Fontenot said because of budget cuts the National Park Service was terminating its agreement with the city because it could not afford to replace the heating and air conditioning system for the Liberty.
The mayor said he supports the city funding the heating and air conditioning replacement with an estimated $350,000 cost. The city is also prepared to assist with other renovations to the theater.
Savoy said there is a four-year plan to renovate the theater.
The non-profit board includes Savoy, Celeste Gomez, Laura Pitre, Pat Dossman, Charles Seale and Paul Feavel.
“We need this building,” Dossman said.
“It is who we are,” she said.
Dossman is a leader in the Eunice Community Concert Band and Choir that until recently used the theater for its shows. They are now held at the First Baptist Church.
“Even though we are not Cajun music, we feel comfortable there and people want to see the building, the pictures on the walls and all of the things that the Liberty really is. So, we have our heart in this project,” she said.
Savoy stressed the building would benefit from continual use rather than the once-a-week shows that had been held there on Saturdays.
The Liberty Center has been challenged in recent years by issues from low attendance at its live Saturday show and upkeep.
A letter from Savoy stated, “We want The Liberty to flourish and prosper, finding a renewed role as a center for culture, performance and community pride directed by leadership from a local not-for-profit ready to commit to long- and short-term goals that includes fiscal responsibility for needed renovations and for on-going programming.”
Since the 1980s the Liberty was the stage for a live radio show that featured Cajun and Zydeco music.
Other business included:
— Setting trick-or-treating from 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 29.
— Adopted an ordinance governing mobile food vendors.
— Approved the donation of the building at Park Avenue and 3rd Street to the American Legion, which was the original owner.
— Approved a $300,000 airport resurfacing project at the Eunice Airport. The projected is funded $270,000 by the federal government and $30,000 by the state government, said Drew Miller, airport manager.