The United States Senate has passed legislation allowing the City of Eunice to take full ownership of the historic Liberty Theatre.
Efforts to restore the 100-year-old structure on Park Avenue have been hindered due to the National Park Service's ownership of a section of the theater.
With the passing of the legislation, many are hopeful restoration can continue and that music and dancing won't be far behind.
"This has been a dream for folks in the community and throughout South Louisiana for several years," said Liberty Theater Association Board Member Paul Feavel.
When the theater reopened in the 1980s, it became a cultural destination for locals and tourists alike.
"Rendez-vous des Cajuns" is an event, and a destination, that the Liberty Theater Association wants to bring to a new generation.
"Unfortunately, those musicians are no longer with us but we have great local regional groups music that is here, lively, and vibrant today," said Feavel. "The culture is as strong as it has ever been with Cajun, Creole and zydeco music."
The Save the Liberty Theatre Act passed in the Senate on March 31 unanimously. The House passed the Act by a vote of 422-4 on March 16. Congressman Mike Johnson introduced the bill in the House.
"I feel like if the city of Eunice has full control and is able to do what we believe needs to be done then we can restore this crown jewel for all of Cajun culture in the region," Johnson said.
The new legislation requires the National Park Service to transfer ownership of its stake in the theater to the city. It's a move Johnson said will speed up revitalization efforts.
"We are grateful they are willing to work with us on this to transfer the ownership to allow this to happen," said Johnson. "We're grateful that it passed the House and and the Senate. Unanimously in the Senate and by a broad bipartisan margin in the House. We're really delighted to get this over the finish line."
The National Parks Service owns a section of the historic venue that was constructed in recent years to provide a handicap-accessible entrance.
The bill is now on its way to President Joe Biden's desk.
Liberty Association Members are looking to finalize architecture plans by the summer.
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