BATON ROUGE - Metro Councilwoman Chauna Banks hosted a town hall meeting Thursday to talk about improving the economic well-being of north Baton Rouge.
The meeting was moderated by Gary Chambers, co-owner of The Rouge Collection. Town hall panelists include Sen. Regina Barrow, Adam Knapp of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, Anthony Marino of the Baton Rouge Metro Airport and BREC Superintendent Carolyn McKnight, among others.
Members of the community filled out the rest of the chairs at Champion Medical Center
Topics included an initiative to make Baton Rouge smoke-free, BREC's Baton Rouge zoo, economic development and healthcare.
Talks of possibly relocating the zoo created a lot of talk among the panelists and members of the crowd. BREC says the zoo needs upgrades but hasn't decided if that will happen in the current location or elsewhere. Earlier this week, the Baton Rouge chapter of the NAACP says they would oppose any move.
"Are we going to change and go in a different direction? I don't know," McKnight said. "There has not been a decision made about the zoo."
Many people voiced their concerns about the zoo moving to another area of town, including panelists.
"Let's make it work in Baton Rouge where it is right now," Attorney Joyce Plummer said.
Following a discussion about reinvesting more in north Baton Rouge, the panel moved onto healthcare, discussing the beginning stages of bringing a hospital to the area.
"I want my money to come back to the area where I live," one audience member said. "I don't want my money to go to south Baton Rouge."
This healthcare discussion comes about 24 hours after a meeting about plans to develop a medical corridor in along Perkins Road near Bluebonnet.
One panelist said the access to quality care in north Baton Rouge spiraled out of control with the closing of a clinic, Earl K. Long Hospital, Women's Hospital moving and the closure of Baton Rouge General's emergency room.
The conversation ended with a push to get a plan in action to make medial care improvements to the community.