Opponents to moving Baton Rouge Zoo take issues to court


BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Opponents to moving the Baton Rouge Zoo have filed a public records lawsuit against BREC, claiming the agency has not provided requested documents.

The lawsuit was filed Friday morning in state district court and lists Cecil Cavanaugh and the Chamber of Commerce of East Baton Rouge Parish as its plaintiffs.
The Keep the Baton Rouge Zoo at Greenwood Park Committee says BREC has not provided complete documentation of requested records as required by law, citing exorbitant associated costs. The committee says they’ve sought since February to obtain all public records from BREC pertaining to its intent to relocate the Baton Rouge Zoo.
BREC hasn’t said it is entirely committed to moving the zoo. The agency has been holding meetings to discuss the potential zoo move and rehab of the park the zoo currently occupies, but have not held a vote.
The lawsuit is about a broad records request that was filed July 24 by the EBR Chamber of Commerce. The request asked for emails, letters, proposals, and more. The original request was met with a cost estimate close to $500 thousand for more than one million emails. This was followed up by a request for electronic records, which was denied.
BREC’s proposal will go before nine BREC commissioners on August 24 for final approval.
That proposal is to proceed with the plan for relocation of the zoo.
Costs for such a relocation and re-imagination of Greenwood Park, contiguous to the zoo’s current location, are estimated at $150 million. Repeatedly, BREC has acknowledged lack of funds to implement this relocation of the zoo and changes to Greenwood Park, citing public/private partnerships, grants, etc. as potential funding sources before asking taxpayers to fund such an expensive endeavor.
Additionally, BREC has refused all requests by the Committee and the general public to reveal potential sites for a new zoo.
BREC released a statement Friday afternoon about the lawsuit and the committee’s request for documents.

We have been in ongoing discussions with this group in an effort to promptly respond to its extremely broad request for documents, as well as the costs due to BREC as a result of their production. While we believe in transparency and strive to fulfill all reasonable requests for information, we are unable to comment further on this matter as we just received the lawsuit. We intend to respond to this lawsuit and look forward to addressing this matter in the court system.

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