Publisher: Will ‘greater good’ prevail in future?

The day before Thanksgiving I visited the new Knock Knock Children’s Museum with my oldest grandson. He loves it. What a wonderful asset for all of our community to enjoy, and it has proven to be very popular. In fact, when I arrived to meet my wife, I found the parking lot full. (I noticed that just three months after opening, they are already pouring more concrete for additional parking. A sign of success.) 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. 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 the small strip of land on the north side of Dalrymple Drive that is part of BREC’s City-Brooks Community Park. That strip also includes the Picnic Hill playground and a Raising Cane’s Dog Park—two more popular attractions. Ironically, the largest—and least used—area of land in City Park sits across the street and is mostly occupied by an old and very mediocre nine-hole golf course that has declining numbers and loses taxpayer money.

But one doesn’t need to do an audit or survey to get the facts here; just compare the parking lots. I did. As 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. I was curious of the actual number of people who visited the north side of the road on Nov 20-22. Knock Knock had almost 3,000 visits. Add to that those who were on the playground and at dog park and you top 3,000. Wow. A true sign of success, demand and customer satisfaction.

I don’t have the numbers for those three days of golf at City Park but can compare to overall rounds in 2016 and 2017. There were 12,234 rounds in 2016 (a loss of $32,032.) And sources tell me in the first eight months of 2017, there were 7,558 rounds compared to 9,002 for same period in 2016. (More declining numbers—and less than 1,000 rounds a month.) Compare those numbers to 3,000 visits in three days across the street.

If what is best is NOT the status quo (look at the stats), then BREC and our city leaders should have the guts to stand up and say so—and do something about it. And this goes for the mayor and Metro Council, too—on this and other issues we face.

My point here is not to debate the declining game of golf versus the fun children have at a wonderful, new museum and playground. That is evident for all to see and the numbers prove it.

My point is, since times—and the desires of citizens—have clearly changed, then why does our community, BREC and elected leaders continually tolerate the demands of a very few “loud” residents nearby and golfers over those of parents and children in our community? What does our community need or want? More golf—or more things to do for children? (Golf continues to decline here and nationwide. Webb Golf Course is about two miles away from City Park and loses money, too—$304,395 lost at Webb in 2016. Baton Rouge has six public courses, the same number as Austin, which has 50% more population. (Does that make sense?) And finally, what do folks believe is the highest and best use for this beautiful land—and what would fulfill the greater good in our community?

If what is best is NOT the status quo (look at the stats), then BREC and our city leaders should have the guts to stand up and say so—and do something about it. And this goes for the mayor and Metro Council, too—on this and other issues we face.

We have had the opportunity to be bold and visionary in the past, but most of the time our “leaders” act cowardly and listen to the loudest voices, worried about their next election or tax vote. That is very shortsighted and has held us back. While our politicians may win the next election and get what they want, I believe our community loses. 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). 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.

Future leaders

We often have the discussion of how to keep and attract talented young people. It is important in order for Baton Rouge and businesses to succeed. Our young people are our future, and every year I am inspired and grow more confident when I read the list of our Forty Under 40 (featured in our previous issue and available online). There is much talent, energy and potential.

We want to congratulate all those honored for 2017—and all past recipients. Thank you for all you do in our community.

But we must do more than just congratulate them if we want them to continue to call Baton Rouge home—and invite their friends to move and join them. 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.

Hindsight is 20/20

Every Tiger fan is excited now that Coach Ed Orgeron and the LSU football team finished the regular season 9-3 and will go to a bowl, where they will play for a 10-win season and maybe a top 12 ranking. Their spirit and fight was inspiring.

I am sure there are many fair-weather fans that are regretting some of the things they said or posted online after the Troy loss. (They are now “kissing up” to the coach and players. Sad.) Many fans jumped ship too early and have egg on their faces. Other SEC teams went down hard and five coaches were fired.

But while fans may not know better about what was going on “inside” after Troy, one would expect that those whose job it is to cover sports for The Advocate (which has always been known for its excellent sports coverage), would have more insight and knowledge than the rest.

So, when I saw the articles mid-season after LSU had defeated Florida and Auburn by certain Advocate sportswriters praising the Tigers and “explaining” how they did it, I decided to look back at what these same folks had predicted prior to the games.

Three Advocate sportswriters who cover the team and make predictions all picked LSU to lose to both Florida and Auburn.

Fact is, you or I could have guessed wrong, too, but these guys are supposed to have the inside information and some insight as to what is in store. It appears they didn’t—but then wanted to “explain” how the win happened afterwards. Really?

This performance by our local sportswriters reminded me a lot of last year’s presidential race—the polling and coverage by the national media. They acted as if they were the experts, and they had Hillary Clinton as a shoo-in. They totally missed it.

I realize that all writers who share opinions, make predictions or endorsements (myself included) are open to criticism and that is fair.

These sportswriters like to critique the coaches and players after their game performances. I figured, what’s good for the goose …

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