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Proposal to split up BREC Park system in Baton Rouge to be considered in legislative session

1 month 1 day 3 hours ago Tuesday, April 06 2021 Apr 6, 2021 April 06, 2021 7:20 PM April 06, 2021 in News
Source: WBRZ

Enjoying the outdoors and getting a little exercise is what most people do when they visit one of BREC's 182 parks.

That number could change if new legislation set to break up BREC's current system is approved.

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

Senate Bill 205 is being put up by Senator Bodi White.

He's suggesting a plan to separate the Baton Rouge Park system into independent districts.

Those new districts would be in Saint George, Zachary, and Central.

In a statement, White says, "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. 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."

Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome said Tuesday, "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 says the bill takes 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.

BREC has an annual budget of 95 million dollars and is supported by a property tax. A similar bill didn't make it through the legislature more than a decade ago.

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