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Memorial to Martin Luther King expected to be in place by May at namesake park in Baker

March 14, 2017

A marker that was scheduled to be erected in fall 2016 to honor Martin Luther King Jr. in the newly renamed Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park on Groom Road should be in place by May, former council member Joyce Burges said after Tuesday’s council meeting.

The council voted 4-1 with Doris Alexander abstaining and Charles Vincent, Pete Heine, Glenda Bryant, and Brenda Jackson in favor, to introduce an ordinance that would amend and reenact the 2016 ordinance renaming the City of Baker Municipal Park after the civil rights leader.

Alexander said she believes the council should have drafted a new ordinance rather than amending the original, which was passed by the previous council in June.

Only two current council members, Heine and Vincent, were on the council at that time.

The new ordinance, city attorney Ken Fabre explained, would not take King’s name from the park, but simply add that a bust of King would be placed in the park along with a marker designating the park in his honor.

The original ordinance stated that a special committee would place a marker at the park before fall 2016; however, due to the flooding in August, the committee was unable to complete the task in time.

About half of the required $2,000 has been raised and the committee is in process of obtaining the marker, said Burges, who is a member of the committee in charge of placing the plaque. She added that anyone interested in making a donation can email joyceburges@gmail.com.

Another committee will be formed at a later date to obtain a bust of King.

“I just want to say that the original ordinance stands,” said Burges. “Are you trying to get rid of those of us on the committee?”

“No, we are not,” Waites answered.

When the city council votes on an ordinance, they are held to exactly what it says, which is why, since the marker was never erected, the council should re-enact and amend the ordinance to reflect the necessary changes, Fabre said.

In other business, the council voted unanimously to accept the low bid of $301,695 to overlay Sandra Drive and Debra Drive from Barber Brothers Contracting in Baton Rouge.

The work should start in April and take about 90 days.

The council voted to table whether to accept the bid of $260,156 from Barber Brothers to improve Hovey Avenue because of questions about whether the street should be connected to Taylor Street.

Alexander made a motion that in the future, the council would be involved in the process of deciding which streets to improve.

“That’s the way it was always done in the past. They would divide the money available between the different districts,” Alexander said.

“It’s been done different ways at different times, but we can go back to that,” Mayor Darnell Waites said.

The council voted unanimously in favor of Alexander’s motion.

 

BY EMILY BECK COGBURN | The Advocate

Last modified: March 31, 2017

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