State Sen. Regina Barrow, a vocal opponent of BREC’s efforts to relocate the zoo out of its Greenwood Park home in her north Baton Rouge district, says she will file a bill when the Legislature convenes Monday to change the composition of the BREC Board of Commissioners. The bill would give the Louisiana Legislature appointment power over three seats on the nine-member board.
Currently, the Metro Council appoints six of the members, while the mayor, school board and planning commission appoint one member each. Commissioners serve three-year terms.
Barrow says her bill would allow state legislators to have a say over who serves on the commission.
“I believe the Legislature should have representation on the board, just as the Metro Council does,” Barrow says. “People come to us about BREC-related issues, so I think we should have representation.”
The bill, once filed, would be the second this session taking aim at BREC. Earlier this month, Barrow’s fellow north Baton Rouge legislator, Rep. Barbara Carpenter, prefiled a bill that would specifically prohibit BREC from moving the zoo from its current location.
Barrow says the intent of her bill is to address systemic problems on the commission. But clearly the zoo issue factored heavily into the drafting of the instrument. The bill gives appointment power over the three legislative seats only to lawmakers from north Baton Rouge, two of whom are herself and Carpenter.
Barrow did not immediately have a draft of the bill with her when contacted by Daily Report and could not provide any additional details about the measure.
Though the BREC commission has not weighed in on the zoo relocation issue, the BREC administration is pushing it, arguing that the zoo cannot be financially sustainable in the long term unless it moves to a more commercially vibrant part of the parish. Barrow says she believes the commission is generally in favor of the move, which is why she wants to change the board’s composition.
“If we could change three seats, it would definitely change the outcome of the vote,” she says.