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BREC breakup proposal passed by state senate: Here's what comes next

1 month 5 days 1 hour ago Tuesday, May 11 2021 May 11, 2021 May 11, 2021 3:20 PM May 11, 2021 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - A proposal to split the public parks system into separate districts was approved by the state senate Tuesday (May 11).  It still needs the backing of the state house.

The proposal would split BREC into independent districts and add a park system separately for Saint George, Zachary, and Central. 

Lawmakers are being asked to weigh-in through State Senator Bodi White's Senate Bill 205.

"I first filed this bill almost 13 years ago. After being promised by then BREC Board President Collis Temple and superintendent that changes would be made, I agreed to not run it. Thirteen years later the changes have not been made, the parks have not improved. It's only gotten worse," White said in a previous statement to WBRZ.

On May 11, White added: "I'm very sure it'll turn out kind of like our schools system in Zachary and Central that no body wanted us to have. [The parks will] be top notch.  Some of the best in the state in a short time."

"It's time for a change and everyone knows it. Each city in this parish can manage their parks more effectively and efficiently than having one huge system trying to do it all. It's just common sense," he added.

BREC has an annual budget of $95 million and is supported by a property tax.

The park system is against the measure.

"I'm just a little disappointed. We pride ourselves on working together and serving the entire parish," said BREC Superintendent Corey Wilson.

Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome has also taken a stand against the proposal.

In a previous statement, she's said: "I certainly believe that we are stronger when we are one entity rather than dividing into parts. But, I first want to have a conversation with the senator to see what his motivation is and to see if there's a remedy."

Central Mayor David Barrow also said the proposal took him by surprise.

"For something this major where you're creating a whole new park system that would be run by a totally different governmental body, is something I feel should be community input on. But nothing has been presented to the citizens of Central or the government of Central regarding this," said Barrow.

WBRZ first reported on the proposal in early April.  The original story was updated here. 

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