MAGNOLIA MEMORIAL GARDEN NOT LOST - Jeremy Hebert with the Acadia Parish LSU AgCenter in Crowley, inspects the remaining magnolia trees located between the railway line and Louisana Ave. as plans are being discussed for the re-location of the remaining trees as a “saving” project of the original Magnolia Memorial Park project. Plans have been in the works following the abrupt removal of over 20 magnolias by the railroad company earlier this summer. (Acadian-Tribune Photos by Lisa Soileaux)

Plans in the works to revitalize Rayne Magnolia Memorial Garden

Memorial project not lost yet

RAYNE - Plans are in the works for the relocation of the remaining magnolia trees planted along the railway with hopes to continue with the Magnolia Memorial Garden.
“We are not giving up on this project yet,” said Martha Royer, whose vision for the downtown area included the planting of over 30 magnolias.
“We are working closely with the city and the Rayne Garden Club to save the remaining magnolia trees and even transplant others to complete the first stage of the Memorial Garden — get it to where it was when the railroad took action this summer.”
What began as a community-wide project for the improvement of downtown Rayne in 2012 was brought to a complete halt in July when vehicles and equipment with Grayhawk Midwest of Aurora, Illinois, a company contracted by BNSF Railway Company, arrived and cut down and disposed of 23 of the original magnolia trees.
Despite pleas from the city administration, Royer and many others from the Rayne community who purchased trees for the project, the trees were disposed of and the land cleared, the railroad company citing “a safety issue at at-grade crossings.”
After a negative backlash of the “quick and drastic” action, the BNSF Railway Foundation recently contacted Mayor Charles “Chuck” Robichaux once again to come to some type of agreement to remedy the situation.
“I guess they (railroad) figured they had to help revitalize the area that was effected by their actions,” explained Robichaux. “Once we spoke, Mr. Anderson realized the trees where not just trees, but a part of our city’s history with the donations made in memory of loved ones.”
“The very next week after we spoke, the city received a check in the mail to transplant the remaining trees and make additions where needed. I know this will help ease the pain felt by family members and allow the Magnolia Memorial Garden to be a reality once again.”
Plans are being discussed by Royer, the Rayne Garden Club and the city for the transplanting and additions to be made in mid-November. The new location of the garden will be just east of the present location between North Arenas and the former Parkerson crossing.

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