Letter: Get involved in plan for growing parks

It was nearly a decade ago that the Baton Rouge Recreation and Park Commission asked our parish to come together during a series of public meetings to dream about the future of our park system. Back then, BREC was composed of aging neighborhood parks and special-use facilities such as the Zoo, Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center, Magnolia Mound Plantation, Baton Rouge Gallery, Independence Park Theatre and the Highland Road Observatory.

The planning efforts led to the creation of a 10-year strategic plan which eventually became known as “Imagine Your Parks” and garnered the support of taxpayers to re-imagine the park system. The result is that we have a more vibrant park system featuring twelve community parks, five dog parks, Liberty Lagoon water park, skateboard parks, fishing ponds, a new conservation area for hikers and nature lovers, a growing trails system, improved playgrounds including a mobile playground unit, as well as renovations to our neighborhood parks and special use facilities.

BREC will finish the bulk of the construction on the “Imagine Your Parks” strategic plan this year and we are about to embark on a process to bring the community together to build on that imagination and chart the course for the next 10 years. While we have made substantial progress, we know that there are still things our visitors would like to see in their parks. To find out what those improvements and programs should be, we will again hold a series of public meetings around the parish to gather the opinions of the community. We will also utilize an online tool that you can use to weigh in on conversations even if you aren’t able to attend one of the public meetings.

Why is this important? National studies show that park systems have a direct impact on real estate values, tourism and the health, safety and environment of a community. We understand our role in the economic success of East Baton Rouge Parish and take that responsibility seriously.

For a full schedule of meetings, go to www.brec.org and join us as we create a plan to continue to make our park system “better than imagined.”

Carolyn McKnight

superintendent, Baton Rouge Recreation and Park Commission

Baton Rouge