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From left standing background, Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome, Mayor Jr. Shelton, City of Central, and Mayor David Amrhein, City of Zachary, watch as Mayor Darnell Waites, City of Baker, at lectern, speaks during a press briefing and media tour regarding Greenwood Park and Baton Rouge Zoo Tuesday March 20, 2018, in Baton Rouge, La.

Members of the Baton Rouge Recreation and Park Commission are slated to decide on Thursday whether to go ahead with plans to move the Baton Rouge Zoo. Ultimately, parish voters should be able to weigh in directly at the ballot box.

An issue this important and this contentious should be framed as a parishwide proposition and decided at the polls, though we have our doubts about whether the idea to move the zoo will survive in any form at this point. Steep opposition from parish leaders will make it an uphill climb.

BREC officials have argued that the zoo’s current location in north Baton Rouge won’t allow it to maintain and grow the level of visitors it needs to remain viable. They’ve touted a location in the southern end of the parish — presumably, Airline Park — that’s more populated and closer to the interstate.

The mayors of Baker, Central, Zachary and Baton Rouge oppose the move, and two state lawmakers are touting bills that would block parish officials from relocating the zoo. The state has no business butting into such a local issue, which should be decided at the parish level.

The argument about the future of the Baton Rouge Zoo has revived long-standing divisions in the parish. The best way to navigate those differences is by direct democracy — putting a zoo proposition on the parishwide ballot so that voters can decide for themselves.