Lafreniere Park is the largest park in Metairie, Louisiana, and provides a place of relaxation for hundreds of locals and tourists daily. The park is funded by local residents surrounding the park, and a few dollars are added onto their water bill every month.
Nicolas Chauvin de la Freniere received a 5,000 acre (20 km²) land grant from Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville which he used to settle with his family. The plantation was then passed on to Nicolas de la Freniere, Jr. who later became Louisiana’s Attorney General. La Freniere, Jr. organized a revolt against Spanish rule in 1768. He was subsequently executed for his part in the conspiracy on October 25, 1769. The land was confiscated by Alejandro O'Reilly afterwards. On part of this 5,000 acre (20 km²) land grant, the Jefferson Downs Race Track was eventually built. The Racetrack remained in operation until 1965 when Hurricane Betsy devastated the area. Upon destruction of the track, it was rebuilt near Lake Pontchartrain in Kenner, Louisiana. This left the old site vacant, and the idea of a park for Jefferson Parish was born. Construction started in 1977, and the park was substantially finished and dedicated in 1982.
|February 10, 1973||Voters approve bond issue for the acquisition of the old Jefferson Downs Race Track|
|August 23, 1973||Jefferson Parish acquires an undivided one-half interest in the Downs property with option to acquire balance within an eighteen-month period|
|September 27, 1973||Council Ordinance #11376 establishes the Lafreniere Park Advisory Board|
|June 11, 1974||Jefferson Parish acquires balance of the Downs property|
|January 2, 1975||Adoption of the Lafreniere Park Master Plan|
|September 16, 1977||Groundbreaking ceremony for the development of Lafreniere Park|
|November 6, 1982||Dedication of Lafreniere Park|
The park features extensive array of wildlife, including a wide variety of birds, squirrels. turtles, rabbits, raccoons, opossums and coypu (or Nutria). Commonly seen species are White Ibis, (Canadian, African, and Chinese) Geese, Black Swan, Black-bellied Whistling Duck, and Great Egret. They are easy to photograph from a distance of about 20 to 30 feet. One side of the park contains a marshland with a wooden walkway cutting through it, allowing travelers to get up close with the wildlife.
Two large playgrounds provide a fenced in area for small children to play, complete with benches and covered tables for their parents. Much of the park consists of man-made water elements, including a small island with a pavilion in the center of the park. Large man-made hills blanket some fields, while leaving others open for various activities. To help residents stay in shape, the park contains a two-mile walking track with parking spots and stretching gyms located at three intervals around it.
Lafreniere Park contains five fields for soccer, two fields for baseball, and a few other multi-purpose fields. One side of the park was later converted into a frisbee golf course as there was too much unused space. Lafreniere is also a popular place for joggers because of the two mile walking track, which is strictly a pedestrian track. Although the track is for joggers, the park also recognizes the needs for skaters and bikers (referring to bicyclists). Many steps and concrete rails are scattered throughout the park, making these spots ideal places for skateboarders. Large, usually empty parking lots are converted into skating areas for inline skaters (also known as roller skating). For bikers and light traffic, the park contains a large road mirroring the inside of the walking track, which is kept smooth and level.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Lafreniere Park.|
- Lafreniere Park Official Site
- Lafreniere Park Photo Gallery - please note, all images on this site are copyrighted and require written consent to use.
- Lafreniere Park History at www.JeffParish.net