Today, BREC Commissioners unanimously voted “NO” to the relocation of the Baton Rouge Zoo. Councilwoman Chauna Banks, in opposition to the move, spoke with Pen Point News regarding her position.
“Today we had elected officials from all of the parish standing together in opposition to the zoo moving. For the past few months, I wasn’t sure what the BREC Commissioners were going to do, it was like a huge disconnect between the Commissioners and the general public”.
There were several community stakeholders, elected officials, community activists, and clergy members all rallying together in opposition to the zoo relocating.
“BREC has not taken care of their assets despite attendance increasing every year since 2005, rather than allowing Greenwood Park and the zoo to ‘die a slow death’, let’s revive these vibrant resources that we already have in our community; this will also keep the burden off the taxpayers”, said Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome.
“When the team is not doing well, the owner doesn’t move the team, the owner replace the leaders; We should be focusing on trying to make the zoo better not trying to move it,” said Mayor Darnell Waites.
“The parish wants a destination zoo, and we need to focus on trying to combine all the amenities that the Superintendent spoke about and add it right here and make this place the destination. The only division that I see is between BREC and the people,” said State Representative Edmond Jordan.
“Whose interest is this board serving? We foot the bill for what this board spends! So do you want to be remembered favorably or for this, consider your legacy,” said community member Becky Vaughn.
“I am from South Baton Rouge, and I can’t understand why you would want to move a zoo to an area that flooded because if it was in South Baton Rouge than people would be complaining that it needed to be moved to the Northern part of the parish, so why now?”, said community member Phillip Littard.
BREC Superintendent Carolyn McKnight gave a presentation on what would replace the zoo if BREC Commissioners voted to relocate the zoo. She suggested: outdoor basketball courts, horseback riding, tournament soccer, mini water park, recreation center, and many other outdoor activities. McKnight implored the crowd in attendance to help her with relocating the zoo.
“We been talking about this for 4 years, I have not had one developer approach me about the existing zoo site, to do the type of work and give the type of investment at the current location, it’s time to move forward, we need to make this happen, we can’t do the status quo anymore”, said BREC Superintendent Carolyn McKnight.
BREC Commissioners unanimously voted “NO” on relocating the zoo.
“Our next phase is to replace the BREC Superintendent and the Zoo Manager”, said Councilwoman Banks.