Dig Baton Rouge

Pollution at the Parks

By Chase Berenson

While some Baton Rouge parks have something for everyone, there are other parks that were mainly designed for a single use.

BREC’s Farr Park Equestrian Center along the Mississippi River is one of those parks. However, when news broke last week that the state of Louisiana recently issued permits for a barge cleaning facility to be built just outside the park borders, I figured it was time to pay a visit while I still could.

As the name suggests, Farr Park is primarily an equestrian center featuring stables, pastures, rings, and an indoor facility. Though most Baton Rouge area parks allow you to roam freely throughout the parkland, at Farr you are limited by fence lines. You shouldn’t climb fences nor should you find yourself in any of the pastures unless you are participating in a riding event. On the other hand, if you haven’t spent much time around horses the center can be a unique experience to visit and observe the operations.

Additionally, even the horseless will find some fun at Farr.

The park is connected to the biking and running trail on top of the levee, so it can be easily accessed during any levee-top adventures. As a matter of fact, the trail connecting the levee to the park has a free air machine, so if you need to top off your tires it’s a good excuse to stop by. There are picnic tables and a pavilion located by a field looking towards the levee, which also make the park a great stop.

There is another trail heading out the back end of the park that connects Farr to BREC’s Riverbend Park, which is a smaller “neighborhood park” in the Riverbend subdivision. River Bend Park features a playground and tennis courts, as well as even more open spaces to run around and explore. The trail connecting Farr and Riverbend is actually under construction at the moment, and it serves as proof that BREC is currently working to further improve these recreational sites.

At the same time, the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality has quietly issued permits to Texas-based company Tubal-Cain Marine Services to build a barge cleaning facility near the park. The facility will be releasing nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, and organic compounds into the atmosphere. In addition, they will be burning toxic air pollutants in a flare. All of these facts managed to slip under the radar until recently because, according to the DEQ, they do not need to notify the public for this type of facility.

This project may potentially impact the residents in the Brightside area, in addition to the two parks, so a lot of people have unanswered questions at the moment.  Hopefully more information will be offered soon as the DEQ has volunteered to hold a public meeting about the facility, though the date and location of the meeting haven’t yet been announced.

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