With the heated battle about a proposed relocation of Baton Rouge Zoo now over, attention rightly turns to what the Baton Rouge Recreation and Parks Commission is planning to do with the facility.
That should be a community focus going forward.
The master plan is to be released Saturday but a brief sneak preview from Superintendent Corey Wilson was part of his parks update to the Press Club of Baton Rouge.
Among other goals, Wilson said, is that the new water features in the master plan would be part of BREC’s emphasis on stormwater management with its open spaces. “We want to be more in the conversation about how parks can help reduce flooding in our community,” he said.
The Louisiana Legislative Auditor says East Baton Rouge Parish’s parks and recreation system “could do more” when it comes to addressing the i…
The BREC zoo has posted increases in visitors over the past year, Wilson noted. “That attendance and revenue is up speaks to the quality of the experience the staff provides there,” Wilson said.
As Wilson said of himself, we were also unaware that there are 32 species of frog in East Baton Rouge Parish. But identifying the amphibians and their habitats by zoo staff and volunteers earned the local facility the Louisiana Wildlife Federation’s top award for 2018.
But big improvements to the zoo will be a part of the new master plan encompassing the facility and its adjacent Greenwood community park.
About $11 million is focused on dealing with the physical exhibits and space constraints that were identified as reasons the zoo lost its national accreditation for the first time in 40 years. A new entrance building will be another $6 million.
Wilson’s teaser did not go into detail, but hippos and giraffes are among the tenants getting attention.
While the proposal to move the zoo to an area with better highway access had its attractions, that was strongly opposed by the communities around the current location.
As part of the politics of the zoo battle, the Legislature ordered a “performance audit” of BREC operations. Wilson said most of the recommendations by the Legislative Auditor’s Office had already been identified internally.
As Wilson called it, that “passionate debate” about the zoo is over. Somewhere between $30 million and $40 million will be needed not only for the zoo but to make the Greenwood park into a significant addition to north Baton Rouge’s stellar lineup of BREC facilities.
We believe the prospects are good for making the joint facilities more inviting and successful. We urge the community to support BREC and its important mission.