Page 13 - 2021 Annual Report
P. 13

            Rising to the Challenge:
The Community Responds to Senate Bill 205
On April 2, 2021 (Good Friday), a bill was filed with no prior public input to break the BREC park system into four smaller systems. BREC leadership quickly sprang into action to inform the community about Senate Bill 205 through the creation of a SB 205 webpage, news release, fact sheet, letter to the editor, Fact Check social media page and a text app to communicate updates to followers of the legislation.
BREC commissioned a survey to measure community support, gathering more than 1,200 responses in two weeks. Most respondents weren’t aware of the bill and the majority of those that were, did not support it. BREC created information packets for legislators, including letters from NRPA and Trust for Public Land explaining the benefits of a large system: dedicated funding stream, ability to leverage staff and purchasing, and offer robust programming and expertise. BREC’s Superintendent spoke at City Council meetings, professional organizations, and a Town Hall meeting to answer questions about the bill and made presentations to both Senate and House committees.
Result: 90 speakers spoke against the bill with four in support, 19 emails opposed the bill, the Fact Check page received 4,755 visits and on May 27, the bill was pulled from consideration by the sponsor.
In agreement with the Senator and to harness community support, BREC embarked on the creation of community advisory committees. Staff met with park systems across the country to learn best practices, empaneled community leaders from across the parish to work with a national and local consultant, commissioned a community engagement survey to learn how and on what topics citizens are most interested in giving input on, and is in the process of creating a community engagement policy that will be followed by the creation of advisory committees strategically located across the parish.
     BREC CONTINUES TO ADVANCE LARGE SCALE TRANSFORMATIONAL PROJECTS The following are just some of the large projects BREC has either recently completed or that are
currently underway which will have a transformative impact on all of East Baton Rouge Parish.
The reimagination of the Baton Rouge Zoo and Greenwood Community Park
The parish-wide bicycle/pedestrian master plan, which will bring 450 miles of connectivity trails to every area of the parish
The development of a green infrastructure initiative focused on maximizing multiple benefits of BREC lands and resources for resiliency, sustainability and mitigation of future flood risks to neighborhoods and businesses surrounding BREC parks
More than $8-million invested in the creation of and improvements to Central Sports Park and more than $4-million invested in Central’s Jackson Community Park, including such new amenities as a one-of-a kind modern playground, a new recreation center at Jackson Community Park, and the pending purchase of adjacent land for expanding the park
A new education building and master plan for Frenchtown Road Conservation Area in Central, creating the only park in the parish that is comparable to Louisiana’s state parks in size and scope
The construction and continuous improvement of Zachary Community Park, with amenities such as a splashpad, dog park, fishing lake and a one- of-a-kind playground that is the tallest playground in the BREC system
Making east baton rouge parish
a better place to live + work + play
Senate Bill 205 seeks to break the accredited, award-winning, and nationally recognized BREC park system up and create two additional park systems—one for the city of Central and one for the city of Zachary.
The bill expands government with duplicative services and staff. It would create two
01 additional layers of government to oversee, maintain, program, and manage parks, facilities, programs,
and assets currently managed by BREC.
The bill carries significant risks. BREC is a nationally accredited and two-time national Gold Medal
award-winning (and 17-time runner-up including the last six years) agency that follows hundreds of 02 quality and efficiency standards and best practices. The bill would turn over public assets to groups without any experience or success in the operation, maintenance and construction of multiple parks,
facilities, programs and events with the expectation that services would remain the same or improve.
The bill jeopardizes transformational projects that benefit the entire parish. BREC is
currently developing major projects with committed funding that will benefit residents in all parts of the 03 parish, including the reimagination of the Zoo and Greenwood Community Park, the parish-wide bicycle/ pedestrian master plan, revitalization of the Lakes at City-Brooks Community Park, and implementation
of newly created master plans at Frenchtown Road Conservation Area and Airline Highway Park.
01 In 2008, a similar bill was submitted for Central to create its own park district.
At the time, BREC committed to spending $3.7 million on a sports park and $500,000 on a community 02 park in Central. Since then, BREC has spent over $8 million on Central Sports Park and by the end of
2021, will spend more than $4 million on Jackson Community Park.
BREC has more than lived up to these commitments and has a proven track record of listening to 03 concerns and requests from residents and community leaders throughout the parish to improve parks,
programs, and services.
by the numbers
The expansion and addition of air conditioning to popular recreation centers across the parish, like Central’s Lovett Road Park Recreation Center and Zachary’s Church Street Park Recreation Center, with additional facility upgrades that include program spaces and indoor amenities, exterior upgrades, energy efficiency improvements, including new roofing, modernization and upgrades for new building code compliance
Residents of the communities that would be served by these new park systems are already seeing
a significant return on their tax dollars, with additional upgrades planned for the coming years. Currently, BREC receives approximately $2.5 million annually in property taxes from Central’s 29,357 residents and $2 million from Zachary’s 17,949 residents.
State-of-the-art, multiple basketball court recreation centers at Airline Highway Community and Memorial Parks that will also serve as safe rooms for emergency personnel responding to disasters or emergencies
Over the past five years, BREC has invested more than $24 million on parks that specifically serve these two areas, including more than $17 million in Central and $7 million in Zachary. In addition to funding these community-specific park improvements, property taxes from each of these areas—like those paid by residents throughout the parish—help to support the delivery of transformational parish- wide projects that benefit everyone, regardless of where they live. BREC strives to meet its mission of providing exceptional parks, open spaces and recreational experiences to all East Baton Rouge Parish residents by investing in high quality parks, programs and maintenance standards in every part of the parish because we believe everyone deserves the benefits gained from having such access.
The creation of a 13th community park at Airline Highway, designed to be a national example of best practices in green infrastructure and stormwater management
BREC uses property taxes paid annually by residents of these areas to leverage additional funds and investments in constructing transformational projects and providing high-quality services across
all its parks and facilities. BREC has demonstrated again and again its commitment to using all revenues and resources at its disposal to serve all residents effectively and equitably, both in their own communities and throughout the parish.
Airline Highway Park
BREC’S Baton Rouge Zoo
Please contact your representative to learn more or provide feedback on the bill. contact information can be found at:
New recreation centers at Howell and Forest Community Parks, Gus Young Park, and Baker Park
Dredging and revitalization of the Lakes area; the most utilized recreation area in the parish
Frenchtown Road Conservation Area
Jackson Community Park

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