New Iberia has long been known as the "Queen City of the Teche". Nearly 250 years after it's founding, downtown New Iberia is still the centerpiece of the city.
For Freddie DeCourt, it means so much more. DeCourt says, "I've been very blessed to own businesses here since I was in my 20s, and my family has had some businesses downtown since the 1850s." It was his world when he was a kid. He says he rode his bike all over the place and just had a good time. Today, he's the Mayor. DeCourt adding, "How I got elected Mayor, I'm still not positive!"
It probably helps that Mayor DeCourt's business background, skills, and community connections are exactly what the city needs. Even though he has dozens of projects in his head, Bouligny Plaza's renovations include a new tourist information center, renovations to the gazebo, and the completion of the Veteran's Memorial. But downtown is the center of it all.
DeCourt says, "It's the flagship to our entire community, our entire town. And downtown is where everything happens!"
New Iberia's 243 year history is quite the story, and now it's told every day. But it also is a way to drive in tourism dollars. DeCourt adding, "These kiosks give you these stories, give you the beginnings so you understand what makes our community. And from here, I hope to keep you downtown with the attractions we're building. With the things we have now, we want you to stay for the day. We want you to have lunch."
That's not all. Renovations to the Steamboat Warehouse are in the plans. The new New Iberia signage is new too. But the real centerpiece is the Bayou Teche's new designation as a National Paddle Trail.
"The National Waterway is huge and we want to take full advantage of it." says DeCourt. "The bayou is what got us here. It was our main highway and main commerce for 150 years, and then we just turned our back on it."
Exciting additions have been added so people can enjoy Bayou Teche. DeCourt saying, "We have a new kayak dock, a new marina behind the George Rodrigue Park. And we have the contract for the new marina behind City Hall. That will be our largest marina. We're taking any opportunity of any property the city has to enhance it any way we can to make the bayou more attractive."
And Freddie has more time. He says, "There's no end to it, we have all the potential in the world, and over the next six years, if I'm lucky enough to get one more term. Five or six years from now we'll really be on a path that there's no turning back after that.