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‘Business Report’ Publisher: Will ‘greater good’ prevail in future?

When Business Report Publisher Rolfe McCollister and his oldest grandson visited Baton Rouge’s Knock Knock Children’s Museum the day before Thanksgiving, they found a parking lot overflowing with cars.

“That day they were directing cars down the street to the parking lot at Picnic Hill, where they had paid to have a school bus shuttle visitors,” McCollister writes in his latest column. “Once I walked into the museum, I found a line of parents and children eager to check in and begin their adventure. (Another sign of success.)  My grandson played for more than two hours and didn’t want to leave. We had a great time.”

Knock Knock sits on a small strip of land—that also includes an equally popular playground and dog park—on the north side of Dalrymple Drive in BREC’s City-Brooks Community Park. Ironically, he notes, the largest and least used area of City Park is a nine-hole golf course across the street.

“One doesn’t need to do an audit or survey to get the facts here; just compare the parking lots. I did,” McCollister says. “I mentioned, Knock Knock’s lot was overflowing and the second lot had dozens of cars. In fact, when I compared the golf course parking lot to the others, it appeared that even the ‘overflow lot’ at Picnic Hill had more cars than the golf course.”

Knock Knock saw about 3,000 visitors during the three-day period from Nov. 20-22, McCollister writes. That number easily rises when you factor in visitors to the playground and dog park, he says.

Though not having golf course stats for the same three-day period, he notes that 12,234 rounds were played there in 2016, with the course operating at a loss of $32,032. Additionally, a source tells him 7,558 rounds were played there in the first eight months of this year, compared to 9,002 for the same period in 2016.

The issue, McCollister writes, isn’t about a golf course, but instead, it’s about the loud voices of a few who support the course trumping what’s in the best interest of the community-at-large. In short, what’s the best use of that land for the greater good of Baton Rouge? Is it a golf course, or, as McCollister suggests, is there a better and higher purpose for this wonderful piece of property in the heart of the city?

“You may agree or disagree. And maybe Baton Rouge is satisfied with the status quo. But comparing the parking lots the day before Thanksgiving, I don’t think that is the case. A first-class future (Knock Knock) appears to clearly win over a very mediocre past (City Park golf),” McCollister writes. “Look at the numbers.  We should observe and learn the lesson—and act. I am hopeful that as the New Year begins we will turn our eyes to the future and have the courage to be bold and consider the greater good.”

And while McCollister cited a children’s museum and a golf course as his examples, he makes clear the message of putting the “greater good” should be applied by local government officials across the East Baton Rouge Parish.

Also, McCollister congratulates the 2017 Business Report Forty Under 40 class, while encouraging the community to do more to keep these future leaders in Baton Rouge.

“We must identify the quality of life they desire and what we must offer to compete with other cities. Is it a Knock Knock Museum, dog parks, and green space—or a nine-hole golf course? Young people have choices, and we must choose, too. Maybe these young leaders will lead the way for the greater good,” he says.

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