Friday, July 24, 2009

ABS meets with National Park Service, moves toward non-profit status, supports a city grant, gets media coverage, and more!

This post provides updates on:
  • recent media coverage
  • non-profit steps taken
  • the new facebook group
  • additions to on safety and legality
  • ABetterShreveport letter in support of a city application to the E.P.A.
  • summary of last meeting's discussion on:
    • abandoned railway
    • bike route plan
    • whether and how to monitor the Zoning Appeals Board
    • non-profit status
  • summary of meeting with Stacye Palmer of the National Park Service
    • Coates Bluff greenway
    • Bike routes plan


Thanks to Kate Archer Kent for her fine story about our group which aired Tuesday morning on KDAQ, Red River Radio. For those who missed it, here it is:
And while we're going through KDAQ's archives, I might as well point us to the story Kate did on the greenways proposal back in May:

O.K., well, back to earning our press.

Ian and I are filing the non-profit papers. We've now got our Federal Tax I.D. Number, we've deposited our first donation check, and we're on our way. We'll be receiving our certificate from the state within a month. Hooray!

We discussed possible members of the board of directors at the meeting. In addition to prime movers and contributors, a lawyer and an accountant would be handy to have on "board".

Robert Trudeau has set up a facebook group for us. I believe you can get to it and join it by going to the link below:;
Joining helps our numbers, helps us network, allows us to solicit and distribute information, all of which can make our proposals stronger and more likely to succeed. So, please do join.

Once you join, you can also then send a batch invitation to all of your "friends" to join as well. No one gets repeated invitations as Facebook doesn't send an invite to someone if they've already received one. Might as well put these new fangled social networking sites to use for us; the rest of the world sure does.

In fact, it's already proving to be an effective way of building our member, and more than just numbers; there's been a fair amount of activity on the discussion forum just in the first few days.


Our new site is developing. Robert added Maurice's wonderful pamphlet on the pleasures, saftey, and legality of biking for transportation.

We're working on putting a map image on the front page, as well as adding other stuff. Let us know if you'd like to help and we'll give you administrator privileges. All you gotta do is ask!


Roy Jambor called and asked for a letter in support of the city's application to the E.P.A. for help funding the aspects of the city's master planning that would work towards reducing carbon emissions (primarily by increasing access to public transit and promoting density in our development). I've attached a copy of the letter for your perusal in case any of you are interested.

Whatever we can do to promote planning for a healthy, happy city, we'd be behind. I think we'd all agree that it's good thing that our group is be able to help the city's effort in that regard.


Thanks to all contributed. In attendence: Sally Spruel, Mark Goadrich, Ian Webb, April Dahm, Feico Kempff, Loren Demerath.

(Now that I write this, I realize that we forgot to share this first item with Stacye Palmer; we should mention it in the future. She might could help us write a grant for it.)

Our meeting started with a discussion of the abandoned railway that runs across the Kansas City Southern Railroad Bridge (the only bridge of it's kind left in North America, I believe--and which Sharron Swanson successfully worked to have donated to the city) from Caddo Street all the way to the Arkansas state line. This is a resource that could readily transformed into a real drawing card for our area: a long distance bike trail cutting through the countryside. It would be readily transformed because it's been done so often and so successfully elsewhere around the country. The Rails to Trails Conservancy specializes in taking old railways just like this and turning them into beautiful bike paths. Doesn't it sound great? I'd be up for teaming up to write a grant for that.

Sally Spruell shared her recent experiences with the Zoning Appeals Board. She asked if might want to monitor the Board. There was a concern that the Board might not consistently follow principles of preserving neighborhood attributes, but instead often responds more to the intensity and number of objections to any given proposal. The group seemed divided on the question of whether ABS weighing in on one case would change the overall pattern of how the Board makes its decisions. It was also recommended that emailing, blogging, even twittering live from the meetings to a large group of people would enable others to become informed and to support or object to a specific change being proposed at a meeting.

The group discussed the bike route plan, and Mark Goadrich updated us on his research into the kinds of standardized signs that would serve the project, and the bike lanes vs. sharrows debate, as noted in a post below here on this blog.

The group was in favor of moving forward on non-profit status, noting that it would allow us to accept donations and to win grant funds to use for small things like buying letterhead and coffee for meetings, or larger projects such as greenways, downtown development, creating a bike route system, a food/bike/hardware coop center, etc.

There was some discussion of the kinds of board members that we would want. Some suggested using people outside the regular group, to take advantage of their expertise or vantage points. Others suggested using insiders, at least at first, mainly to maintain the cohesiveness we have developed in our thinking about what the mission and nature of the group.


Stacye Palmer of the National Park Service then met with us about what we had been working on since meeting with her in December. We told her about how our work had become focused recently on the bike route network and the Coates Bluff Trail project. Both can be seen as part of an alternative transportation network, and the Coates Bluff Trail could be a pilot greenway--though not one that uses the drainage ditches as proposed in our grant.

We described, the historic nature of Coates Bluff and the abandoned cemetaries in the forest there, and how a nature trail loop could go off the greenway to provide a tourway for education on nature and history. We also described the different partners that could potentially be involved with us in creating the Coates Bluff greenway and adding value to that area: neighborhood churches and community organizations such as the Stoner Hill Neighborhood Association, the Stoner Hill Lab elementary school, Magnet High School, Swepco Park (adjacent to Magnet), David Alexander and Vintage Realty's Riverscape Development, and the Clyde Fant DGC Veterans Park, the Caddo Parish School Board, and the Shreveport Department of Public Assembly and Recreation.

As well as helping us with our bike routes network, Stacye said she would help us develop a promotional flier for the Coates Bluff greenway that would help our potential partners and others conceptualize how the greenway could benefit the city as whole, and that area in particular.

Onward and upward! We'll be meeting on Tuesday again, 8:20 a.m. in Centenary Square. See you then!

No comments: