Our Views: Vote No for BREC Tax on November 8th

For months now residents of north Baton Rouge have waited for BREC to make a decision on the location of the Baton Rouge Zoo. BREC has kicked the can down the road in an attempt to pass their tax before making the controversial decision. BREC like many other government entities in Baton Rouge has invested millions in projects in south Baton Rouge, while failing to make the same type of investments in north Baton Rouge. Their model of community parks vs neighborhood parks isn’t the right fit for inner city urban communities.

This BREC tax is said to only fund their current operation, but the current way of doing things has not been of great value to residents of north Baton Rouge. Until we can have a commitment on the zoo, and full understanding of the timeline for park improvements in north Baton Rouge we should not support spending our tax dollars to continue to fund BREC.

Some will criticize my stance. They will speak of the good BREC has done, but that doesn’t change the fact that many of the gyms in north Baton Rouge haven’t been updated in years. There is a major need for these facilities to be modernized and used in north Baton Rouge neighborhoods. Young kids who are able to play sports at a neighborhood park have something constructive to do, which helps keep kids out of trouble. The areas of BREC’s focus have been primarily in south Baton Rouge. Even Zachary and Central have received much from their investment. North Baton Rouge has been at the short end of the stick.

It is time for us to stop supporting with our dollars plans that always put us last. Before long, every park in south Baton Rouge, Zachary, and Central will be redone before the parks in north Baton Rouge have seen any type of major investment.

The delaying of the vote on the zoo was a slap in the face to residents of north Baton Rouge. It was a play that they expected us not to notice, as if we have forgotten about the zoo. If BREC is willing to go out and raise money to build a new zoo, in other parts of the parish, they should be able to go to those parts of the parish for their funding. Making an investment in the zoo in its current location will help economic development in north Baton Rouge. If partnered with a mayor who urges the council to create some type of opportunity zone near the zoo, the potential is limitless.

The major change in the area around the zoo in recent years, from when it was built, is simply the color of the people who live near it. Moving the zoo to south Baton Rouge is simply moving it to a whiter area of town. The only way we stop the stereotyping and disinvestment of communities like north Baton Rouge is to just do it. We need to make the investment where it is, and since BREC chose to delay the vote, I simply cannot support a tax that will possibly aid in taking away resources from north Baton Rouge over the next 10 years. We have lost enough. We are always last, and the only way to stop something like that from happening is to take a stand. So join me on November 8th in voting NO to the BREC tax.