FOBP HOME PAGE

 
FRIENDS OF BRECHTEL PARK OFFICERS: 
  • President, Dr. Berengher Brechtel
  • Secretary & Director, Ron Bridges
  • Treasurer & Director, Missy Duhon, CPA
  • Director, Hon. Jackie Brechtel Clarkson
  • Director: Sylvia Broussard
  • Director, Gerald Duhon
  • Director: Don Hanson
GIVE THE GIFT OF FRIENDSHIP!
 
The value of giving lasts the whole year. Give the gift of a membership to Friends of Brechtel Park!
 
Brechtel Park is a city park that offers a unique outdoor experience in the heart of the westbank. It has been a beloved part of the community for generations. Brechtel Park is home to diverse wildlife and hardbottom woodlands. 
 
Citizens and volunteer groups are needed to help bring Brechtel Park back after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Please see the "Volunteer" section for information on volunteer projects for your schjool, garden club, scout troop, or organization.
 
The Friends of Brechtel Park is dedicated to this goal.
 
In order to become a member of Friends of Brechtel Park, and support it financially, please make a  small donation of $25 per year, per person.
 
For more information or to join the Friends please mail your donation to: 
Friends of Brechtel Park
401 Rue St. Peter #130
Metairie, LA 70005
 or
 

 
Approximately 100 participants made the day a success. 
Special thanks go to Barbara Hanson for organizing the Easter Egg hunt;  to Paul Richard for conducting the eco-hike on  the new trail;  to all Friends of Brechtel Park for their support;  to the Westbank Garden Clubs for donating eggs;  to Rebecca Brechtel for bringing Peter Cottontail.

"Friends" gather to help set up for the big day!
 
                  
Students gather to hang  bird feeders.                                                                 
        Meet   Peter Cottontail
                                                                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                               Eco-Hike with Paul Richard

                                       
The Honorable Jackie Clarkson
Sophia Brechtel
Dr. Rebecca Brechtel
                                                                                                             
                                                                   (Catherine Fugler)                                                                  
I found lots of eggs!!!


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2013 Arbor Day Celebration in Brechtel Park 
 

 
The Department of Parks and Parkways and the Algiers Garden Clubs hosted the Arbor Day Celebration in Brechtel Park. Hon. Jackie Clarkson and Hon. Kristen Palmer presented proclamations. 
 
The Garden Clubs participating were:
  • Aurora Plantation Gardners
  • Aurora Garden Club
  • English Turn Garden Club
  • Fleur de Lis Garden Club
  • Park Timbers Garden Club
  • Tall Timbers Garden Club
Barbara Hanson and Sylvia Broussard should be credited with organizing and carrying out the event.  Ann McDonald, Director of Parks and Parkways gave her remarks at the end.
 
Left to Right: 
Barbara Hanson,  Dr. Berengher Brechtel , Marty Broussard


The Department of Parks and Parkways
and
The Algiers Garden Clubs

March 22, 2013 


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Friends of Brechtel Park
2012 Christmas Party
 
at the
Duhon Residence

 
    Dr. Berengher Brechtel    
Gerald and Missy Duhon
 
Ron Bridges
Missy Duhon

Dr. Rebecca Brechtel
The Honorable Kristen Palmer
The Honorable Jackie Clarkson

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THE WESTBANK TURNS OUT...
 
 
THE BARRY BRECHTEL MEMORIAL FUND
 
 
 
The Barry Brechtel Memorial Fund will continue to accept donations in his memory to be used to beautify the park, especially the lagoon area. It was dedicated to him on March 28, 2010 in his grandfather’s memorial park, the John P. Brechtel Jr. Memorial Park. The New Orleans Philharmonic held a free concert and the public was invited. Standard Mapping has named “Brechtel Point” on the wetland maps of Louisiana in his honor.  He is being remembered in so many special ways and by special people. It is fitting to relate some of his wishes as all of this materializes, as stated by his friends and associates.

            Lyle Johnson of the Weekly Citizen in Gonzales, LA wrote on October 29, 2009: “Every now and then in our life’s path we come across someone that is bigger than life. Their smile is for real, everybody around them seems just a little better off for being in their presence and your day takes a turn for the better. Barry Brechtel was one of those people.”

            “People that fish in the Hopedale area don’t need to be told this for they experienced Barry on a very regular basis. You see, Brechtel was part owner of Breton Sound Marina and we anglers know very well, a marina owner is your best friend or your worst enemy. Brechtel was an angler’s friend. He was a highly regarded guide and was partners with CT Williams in BIGISH charters, BigFish TV and Louisiana Wildlife TV.

But he always made sure his customers had their boats in the water, had all the bait they needed and knew first hand where to go and how to catch them before he took off for the day.”

            “Off the water Brechtel was no different. A loving husband to Pam and devoted father to Beren, Sophia, and Bennet, their three children, he was a member of the Christian Golfers Association and gave his time and resources to the Kids Kicking Cancer Fishing Rodeo, Little Sisters of the Poor, New Orleans Mission and Fishing for Hope.”

            “Early in the morning on November 25th, 2008, ‘Captain Barry’ was involved in an automobile accident and passed away. For all that know him as bigger than life; his memory will certainly be bigger than his death.”

            This is the goal of the Barry Brechtel Memorial Fund at Brechtel Park. Restocking the lagoon at the park is something he would have liked very much; providing fishing opportunities to urban children, especially those who would not be able to fish any other way, was something he always promoted.

            CT Williams wrote: “I know if Barry had to write his own eulogy it would be as simple as his fishing report. He’d probably say:

            “Great day each and every one of them, just limited out early! His simple words and predictable lines made him easy to understand and everybody got it. Calls that flooded my phone, the marina’s phones, and the Brechtel homes are proof that everybody got it. The radio broadcasts, television news reports, newspaper articles, and online forums tell you everybody got it!”

            “He made it look easy. But as an insider, I will tell you he worked. From the day I met him at WWL he worked, at the stock brokerages, at the marina, on television and at BigFish Charters, he worked.”

            “He had a predictable way; family and friends were held to a high standard, tough love until the going got tough and then he would help you find a solution. Outside of that circle, he would be willing to lend a hand if there was something he could do. But it was those who he knew couldn’t get out of life’s dark corner he would often bring whatever light he could shine. I’m not just talking about the charters BigFish gave to charities; there were plenty of those each year. I’m talking about money for a kid’s education, a place he bought for someone to live after being displaced near the marina.”

            “The stories of his love for fishing start with Grandfather Roy in Alabama and at Southern Miss where he grew up and end here. The list of his friends is long and the accounts of his character are endless.”

            “Summarizing might be a lot easier from a poet named Linda Ellis who shared a work she entitled “the dash”. It is a poem of a eulogy like this, and in one verse she sums up so much.

He noted that first come the date of his birth

And spoke of the following date with tears,

But he said what mattered most of all

Was the dash between those years.

So, when your eulogy is being read

With your life’s actions to rehash…

Would you be proud of the things they

Say about how you spend your dash?

            Barry’s dash was short on time but very long on life and love. He appreciated what life offered and took nothing for granted.”

            “At the end of many of his television shows Barry would close with another one of those sayings he had. As the credits would start to roll he would thank viewers for watching and say:

“Keep doin’ it BIGFISH style!”

            BIGFISH style means more than the catching of a good keeper; it’s about the preparation, the journey, and the experience; it’s about making the most out of every opportunity life gives you, and never losing sight of what you believe or who you love.”

            Aside from Barry’s dream of fishing and providing that opportunity for others in the last few years of his life, some, like his Aunt Jackie Clarkson say he was a ‘Renaissance Man’. Barry was a successful financial broker for twenty years for Merrill Lynch and Smith Barney. He first attended Jesuit High School where in one given year he studied Latin, French, and English at the same time, and managed to letter in four sports during his time as a Blue Jay. He was a very loyal supporter of the school until the end of his life. He managed to be very active in his CYO group, SANYO. Several trips to a mission in Mexico caused him (as he said it) “to think about things differently”. He majored in English and media communications at Loyola University, wrote for 20-30 conservation, hunting, and fishing magazines and online sources, and lobbied constantly for the preservation of our wetlands and shoreline in Louisiana. He could walk with kings, or fish the bayous, and make good friends all in between, never meeting a stranger.

            Barry would want all of us to work for the good of the environment, save the earth, protect the animals and their natural habitats, and to provide opportunities for kids and families to have experiences at Brechtel Park to make them better citizens. He fished and played golf at the park as a youngster and never forgot the peace that comes with a sunset on the pond! God’s speed our friend…we’re going to work hard on your lagoon.

 

Survived by: Wife Pam Bitterwolf, children Beren, Sophia, Bennet, parents Becky and Berengher Brechtel, sister and brother-in-law Royceann and Chad Fugler and Cate. He had great Bitterwolf in-laws and sisters and brothers-in-law, scores of Clarkson, Brechtel, Battistella and Underwood cousins, aunts and uncles on the Brechtel and Underwood sides, and he loved them all…His grandparents were: Mr. and Mrs. John P. Brechtel Jr. and Mr. and Mrs. Roy Underwood, deceased.

 
 
KERRY MALONEY / THE TIMES-PICAYUNE
A member of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra entertains the crowd Sunday at Brechtel Park in Algiers for a dedication ceremony in memory of Barry Brechtel.
 
 
It had been years since I visited Brechtel Park off of Lennox Boulevard in Algiers.

Despite the fact that the park is about a five-minute drive from my house, the last time I as there was a few years before Hurricane Katrina, probably for a Cub Scout outing for my son or maybe a birthday party.

On March 28, I finally returned, for a free Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra concert. About a thousand other people came, too.

People came for the wonderful pops concert: a Duke Ellington medley, the "My Fair Lady Suite, '' danceable Latin tunes and more. They kicked back in folding chairs and on blankets, enjoying picnics and wine they had brought from home.

They also came to show off their dogs, everything from a big friendly Akita on down to a tiny Chihuahua; to scamper up and down the two big hills (surely two of the highest spots in New Orleans) with kites and kids; and to admire ducks and swans swimming in the lagoon newly dedicated to the late Barry Brechtel.

"Parks and Parkways really stepped up nicely, '' said Barry's father and Friends of Brechtel Park President Berengher Brechtel.

Indeed they did -- the grass was neatly trimmed -- although you did still need to keep an eye out for fire ants -- and the park looked better than I ever remember seeing it.

Berengher Brechtel's wife, Becky, a Friends of Brechtel Park board member, said several garden clubs, Tall Timbers, Park Timbers, Aurora and English Turn, planted flowers.

"It's the first time we've seen that kind of community interest, '' said Becky Brechtel, who coordinates volunteers for the park.

And children enjoyed a new playground close enough to the concert area that parents could keep an eye on them and still enjoy the music.

Although it's a delightful spot and so accessible, Becky Brechtel said many people don't even know the park exists.

The park held an event in December for children to make bird feeders,”and what was an eye opener for me was that a lot of mothers came and were flabberasted it was right here in our community.

"People just don't know that it's back there."

Berengher Brechtel's sister, City Councilwoman Jackie Clarkson, planned and organized the event, complete with a portable, covered stage with a $25,000 grant from Harrah's. "It's the best thing I've ever done. It's something I've always wanted to do, '' she said.

She's hoping to have the LPO return in 2011 around July 4 for a patriotic concert, and have everyone wear red, white and blue.

Becky Brechtel said,”There's a lot of interest in having music in the park, maybe bimonthly during spring and the fall."

The Navy and Marine bands are willing to play for free, but a stage would need to be provided, Clarkson said.

Improvements to the park, such as refurbished bathrooms and picnic tables and benches, are due to $4 million in city money. Hurricane repairs focused on the more heavily damaged east bank parks first, and now it's Brechtel's turn, Clarkson said. Although damage at Brechtel was less than Joe Brown Park in eastern New Orleans, for example, there was considerable wind damage to the trees at Brechtel.

Next up for Brechtel are improvements to Scout Island, where bathrooms, picnic areas and primitive campsites need refurbishing. "We need to deal with the trees, '' she said.

The lagoon also needs attention to bring it in compliance with ecological studies, and will then be stocked with fish.

The Brechtels said they want the 131-acre park to have the kind of pull City Park has in New Orleans. Brechtel Park is centrally located, near the Jefferson Parish border and minutes from Plaquemines Parish.

"I want Plaquemines to be there. I want Jefferson to be there, '' Berengher Brechtel said. "It's a metropolitan thing."

Friends of Brechtel Park is always looking for new members, donations and volunteers. Individual memberships are $25. Visit www.friendsofbrechtelpark.org or e-mail
beckbrech@bellsouth.net.

Shelters at Brechtel may be rented through the Department of Parks and Parkways. Call 504.658.3200. The park is a great site for family reunions, Berengher Brechtel said, recalling a Brechtel family reunion at the park years ago.

Clarkson is glad the LPO concert brought the park back onto people's radar.

"We have to bring back parks to rebuild a city.''
  
 
 
WOODEN SCULPTURE REPAIRS IN BRECHTEL
 
PARK BY WORLD-KNOWN SCULPTOR
 
PETER TOTH
 
IT SHOULD BE NOTED THAT SENATOR DAVID HEITMEIER PERSONALLY FUNDED
THE COST OF THE REPAIRS IN FULL
 
Other citizens who greatly assisted in this project were:
 
Ron Bridges, FOBP Board Member, who provided needed supplies and ran errands for Peter Toth for 3 weeks;
 
Commander and Mrs. Christopher Barcomb and Jeramy who provided a room in their home and some meals for 3 weeks along with welding, tools, use of a trailer for storage, etc.;
 
The Friends of Brechtel Park Board were constantly at the Park with lunches, dinners, running errands, coordinating with Parkways, making phone calls, etc.
 

 

 
American Indian undergoing repairs
Published: Thursday, September 09, 2010, 6:00 AM  By The Times-Picayune
 
There's a trail that runs through all 50 states and even reaches into Canada and Europe called "The Trail of the Whispering Giants."

These carved wooden sculptures, created by Peter Toth and mostly made from either tree stumps or large logs, are a testament to the struggles of mankind. The trail was blazed in New Orleans on Gentilly Boulevard in 1974, when Toth came to create a piece of art so profound that it is still remembered 36 years later.

As children in Gentilly, Mike Keller, currently of Covington, and Ann Macdonald, now director of Parks and Parkways, witnessed the creation of the sculpture of an American Indian. Since then, it has been moved to Brechtel Park in Algiers, but something about their childhood experience stuck with Keller and McDonald.

"Ann asked us if the Friends of Brechtel Park could help bring the statue back, " said J. Berengher Brechtel, president of the Friends of Brechtel Park. "Mike Keller and his wife came over to see my wife and I about it, and we went from there."

The piece in Brechtel Park has fallen prey to termites, and Toth has returned to New Orleans to repair his work.

"Not too many artists have a second chance of correcting their mistakes, " he said. "Once the statue is complete, the mouth will be open instead of closed, as it if it were whispering."

He plans to finish the repairs in only two weeks. Toth hopes the repaired statue, reinforced with steel, will last for at least 100 years, with continued maintenance. The steel will act as a backbone for the statue, so that even in a hurricane, the sculpture will have a decent chance of standing firm.

Although he has a lot of work to do, Toth said that without the help of selfless volunteers it wouldn't be possible.

"I am astounded, flattered and really pleased that I am surrounded by geniuses. This includes everyone that's been helping me, " he said. "This includes Dr. Brechtel, his wife Rebecca Brechtel, Ron Bridges and so many others."

Brechtel also added that this project would not have been possible without a lot of coordination and people coming through to pitch in with meals and tools.

Donna Collins provided Toth with a place to stay, and state Sen. David Heitmeier provided much of the financing.

The Parks and Parkways Commission along with many others from the Friends of Brechtel Park, also have been instrumental in this process, including Blaine Kern, Missy Duhon, Gerald Duhon, Christopher Barcomb, New Orleans City Councilwoman Jackie Clarkson and Jim Helton.

While Toth is repairing the sculpture, within the next couple of weeks, Brechtel Park will be open for school field trips. Interested teachers may call Becky Bechtel at 504.583.9011, e-mail her at beckbrech@bellsouth.net or call Berengher Brechtel at 504.583.0136 for scheduling.

One group already scheduled is the art students of Belle Chasse Academy, under the direction of Miriam Denis-Harper. She said the trip is a great opportunity for her students.

"One of the most accessible forms of art that we see are public installation pieces, like the ones that Peter Toth creates, " she said. "An opportunity for my young art students to not only see this kind of art, but to speak to the artist and learn about the process by which a large-scale installation piece is conceptualized, built and maintained is very exciting."

Toth said he hopes to one day create a 50-foot tall sculpture in the New Orleans area in dedication to those who have been negatively affected by Hurricane Katrina and the oil spill.

However, in order to get started on the work, he is in need of a large sequoia tree, which most likely would be found in California. Once the sequoia is donated, Toth said he will need assistance with the delivery costs. He also is hoping for the donation of a concrete base and the use of a crane.

Those interested in assisting with his efforts may contact Toth at 386.795.0291 or peterwtoth@yahoo.com.

 -- By Shelita Dalton

ALL PHOTOGRAPHS BY SUSAN POAG/THE TIMES-PICAYUNE
 
FOBP NOTE: THANKS TO MARTY BROUSSARD FOR ORGANIZING AND COORDINATING THE NAVY BAND CONCERT 

Navy Band Swings Through Brechtel Park

from West Bank Living.com

Written on October 18, 2010 by Lisa Heindel in Around Town, Blog, Family Fun, Music and more

Over the weekend, the U.S. Navy Band put on a free concert at Brechtel Park in Algiers.  We took advantage of the glorious weather and set up our lawn chairs to enjoy an afternoon of music that went from big band to swing to contemporary pop.  Although the more modern selections were good, it was the swing tunes that really got toes tapping and hands clapping.  I had no idea that Musician was a rank in the Navy, but now I know better.

With a crowd that ranged from school kids to senior citizens, there had to be at least a couple of hundred folks in the park.  Girl Scouts were selling Fleur d’Bricks to raise funds for their upcoming trip to Savannah, GA.  The Friends of Brechtel Park were out in force as well, selling refreshments and raffling off a print of St. Louis Cathedral to raise funds for continued improvements to a space that is slowly recovering from the damage caused during Katrina.

I’ve written before about the need for clean up and repairs in the park and I have to say that, while there is still a lot of work to be done, there were also some very obvious improvements that have been made.  The buzz in the crowd was that the Army Corps of Engineers will be dredging and restocking the lagoon in 2011, bringing back the chance for the little ones to once again fish from the banks.

In the meantime, I was pleased to see the results of the work that has already been done.

 I know that the lagoon still looks a mess, but the vegetation that was covering the surface before was smothering life in it.  It might be muddy and still need work, but at least the ducks and the geese are able to swim around now.

 
  

 

 I also noticed replaced or repaired picnic tables and an overall improvement in the cleanliness of the park.  I hope that it won’t be long before it’s restored and filled with families once again – not just when there is a big event, but every day.
 
 

Brechtel Park 'Birds Buffet' draws students, parents, teachers

Published: Sunday, December 12, 2010, 6:00 AM By Shelita Dalton, Terrytown Columnist

Students, parents and teachers recently came together to make bird feeders for Brechtel Park’s second annual Birds’ Buffet in Algiers.

 
Belle Chasse Academy seventh-graders Audrey Bartz, left, and Alexis Wright, right, hang their bird feeders on one of the trees in Brechtel Park.

The event was created to ensure that the birds that frequent the park have adequate food for the winter.

In attendance were students from Belle Chasse Academy, Martin Behrman Charter School, Algiers Technology Academy, Alice Harte Charter School, Brother Martin High School, Salem Lutheran School and Edna Karr School.

The event was sponsored by the Belle Chasse Academy K-kids, along with the Friends of Brechtel Park.

Alan Delery, family and student support manager for the Algiers Charter Schools Association, was also instrumental in gaining student participation.

To create the bird feeders, students spread peanut butter over pine cones and rolled them in shredded wheat.

Angel Hays, a sixth-grader at Martin Behrman, said the process of making the feeders was messy but fun, and it was a good way to help the birds.

“Birds don’t get as much food in the winter time,” she said. “So, we’re trying to help them so that they won’t starve.”

Board member for the Friends of Brechtel Park and gifted teacher at Belle Chasse Academy, Rebecca Brechtel, said the informal activity was also a great way for students to learn about nature.

“The overall purpose of the event was to help kids appreciate the ecological beauty of the park,” she said. “There was so much damage to the park after Hurricane Katrina, but now it’s beautiful.”

Chad Majorie, a teacher’s assistant with the Belle Chasse Academy gifted program, said because many students at the school are not from the area and are in military families, the activity was an opportunity for them to learn about their surroundings.

“They participated in research activities prior to the event,” he said. “They learned which birds are more common in this area.”

Along with assisting the birds in the winter, Majorie said the Birds’ Buffet activity was a great way to disconnect students from technology.

“They did their research in real encyclopedias,” he said. “This is important especially with the amount of video and computer games that are out there.”

Majorie added that the activity also gave students an opportunity to get back in touch with nature and the outdoors.

“I don’t think this is done in a lot of schools,” he said. “It’s a valiant effort; it’s not easy.”

Majorie said it’s good for students to be aware of their environment and how it affects them and the animals.

“For example, some may not know that throwing trash on the ground not only looks bad but it can end up choking an animal,” he said. “They need to know there are ways they can help the animals.”

J. Berengher Brechtel, president of the Friends of Brechtel Park, said the activity was also a great way to get people to come out to the park.

“Some people either forgot or weren’t aware that the park was here,” he said. “Now that we’ve gotten it fixed up after Hurricane Katrina, children can come out to play and families can come back with barbecues and picnics.”

 

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