Parkgoers now can tap into a Wi-Fi connection to check Facebook, post to Instagram or send an email at 25 BREC parks, as long as they don’t stroll too far from the buildings.
The recreation and park commission is offering three public Wi-Fi options, the most basic of which will allow people to spend two hours on the Internet daily for free with slower speeds. The other two options, which BREC classifies as premium services, cost $5 each. The speeds on those connections will be faster, with better streaming quality and the ability to download large files.
Still, sports-seekers won’t exactly be able to catch up on Netflix amid their soccer time-outs. This is still the first step, according to BREC officials, and Wi-Fi will work best in the buildings and reach maybe 100 or 200 feet beyond them.
“We’re putting them where we know we have a strong customer base and from there, we’ll determine where we’re going to branch out,” said Steven Knight, BREC information technology director.
Among the parks where Wi-Fi is available: Independence Community Park Recreation Center, Perkins Road Community Park Recreation Center, BREC’S administrative building at Womack Park, the pro shops at all of BREC’s golf courses and more.
BREC officials plan to add Wi-Fi to a handful of parks down the line this year, including Highland Road Community Park and the Farr Park Equestrian Center.
The process has taken about a year, and it started when BREC switched to Cox Communications as its Internet service provider. Cox’s service costs BREC about $150,000 annually, which is $100,000 less than BREC paid with its previous service provider Windstream.
The Cox contract gave BREC extra pocket money and more bandwidth, which led to the ability to add Wi-Fi to some parks.
Knight said they started adding beta versions of Wi-Fi to parks in the summer, and there have been more than 5,000 connections made since August. Now that the Wi-Fi additions have been completed, the BREC facilities that offer it will have window decals that say BREC Open.
The parks that offer Wi-Fi are:
Church Street Recreation Center
Forest Community Park Recreation Center
Independence Community Park Recreation Center
Lovett Road Park Recreation Center
North Sherwood Forest Community Park Recreation Center
Perkins Road Community Park Recreation Center
Zachary Community Park Recreation Center
Beaver Creek Golf Pro Shop and Deli
City-Brooks Community Park Golf Pro Shop
Woody Dumas Golf Pro Shop and Waterfront Café
Howell Park Golf Pro Shop
J.S. Clark Park Golf Pro Shop
Santa Maria Golf Pro Shop, Deli, Fitness Center
Webb Golf Course Pro Shop and Fitness Center
BREC’s Administrative Building at Womack Park
Upper Deck Batting Cages and Training Facility
Baton Rouge Gallery
Bluebonnet Swamp and Nature Center and Educational Building
Highland Road Community Park Observatory
Independence Community Park Theatre
Liberty Lagoon Water Park
Magnolia Mound Plantation Visitors Center
Perkins Extreme Sports Park
Independence Community Park Tennis Center
Greenwood Community Park Tennis Center.