Thursday, October 8, 2009

New Mayoral Committee on Energy Efficiency, Meeting with Potential Partners for Greenway, Design Discussed at Last Meeting

Summary of Last Meeting, 10/5/9, 6:15-7:30
In attendance: Dylan Breithaupt, Robert Trudeau, Ian Webb, Jon Soul, Loren Demerath, Sheri Kerr, Caroline Manning, David Aubry, Feico Kempff, Susan Keith, Cynthia Kieth, Jon Soul, Dan Marcalus

The meeting started with Ian Webb describing a committee on energy efficiency and conservation block grant programing that has been appointed by the mayor. The committee has nine members--including Ian and Jeanne Hamming--three consultants--including Kim Mitchel and Bruce Hoffman, and also has Wes Wyche, Tim Wachtel, Mike Strong serving as technical advisers.

The committee will be charged with developing strategies for using stimulus monies intended to fund improvements in our city's energy use efficiency. Hopefully, the proposals will be for implementing changes that will produce long-term improvements in energy efficiency, and may complement other needs too, such as health improvements that can come about by facilitating more walking and biking.

The committee will be coming up with strategies and identifying stakeholders; 8-10 different cities have received money and each city can build on each others' strategies; the feds want to see that happen: to give 2 million and have it turn it into 20; this isn't a rubber stamping committee; they'll make decisions and the mayor may modify them, but they're charged with developing strategies.

The U.S. Department of Energy would review proposals and suggest amendments.

The committee will be meeting once a week on Thursday evenings for the next six weeks.

The meeting then turned to the Coates Bluff Greenway proposal. Loren and Feico described their meeting with David Alexander last week with Sharron Swanson. One of the pressing needs we identified is to draw a preliminary plan, and find funding for a full plan. Then Alexander and other partners will know what specifically we'll need from them, such as the width of the easement.

The group learned that Sharron Swanson was drawing up some preliminary plans, pro bono, and it was suggested that might ask for similar donations of labor from Robert Vinet, a Magnet High alumnus who works for Burk-Klienpeter on the Concordia Place development.

It was also noted Jeff Girard said Coates Bluff could become an archeological conservancy; land owners would still own it; could still have a corridor for the greenway; Jeff is going to come back and register the graves and cemeteries; a private owner and a church own it currently, though the city may really own it if it's adjudicated.

It was said the strongest bet may be to have the greenway built, owned and maintained through public private partnership. It might be built with private funds, then leased to the city to maintain. It was noted that private developers often build roads then give them to the city to maintain.

Caroline told story of Katy bike path, and how it first ran through a blighted area that is now gentrified with very high property valued residences; people apparently want to live right on the bike path. Ian noted there is good info at on that kind of thing; Dan noted how city could use stimulus money, block grant money to construct and maintain it. It was noted that we need to get a political figure like Monty to champion it.

Accordingly, the group decided it was time to get key partners on board and to introduce the proposal to them. Chief among these partners is Monty Walford, the councilman in whose district would be the greenway. Other partners include the Caddo Parish School Board, the V.A. Hospital, Caddo Magnet High School, the Stoner Hill Lab Elementary School, the Montessori School for Shreveport, and the Stoner Hill Neighborhood Association. Caroline said she'd be willing to develop a flier to market the idea and the group was grateful for the offer.

Other things discussed:
Lack of doctoral programs in the city; In Ruston?; driving distance; Need for engineering, social work, business programs, etc. in Shreveport; Virginia has a system of combining programs; continuing ed programs for people not looking for student life; 4 separate systems here; budget cuts are forcing people to the table to consolidate and merge. LSUS merging with Tech a possibility.

Caroline asked if we had tree regulations in the city preventing people from cutting down large trees. It was thought we did not. Some noted the area cleared for the new development near Magnet appeared to have had many large trees. Those on bikes saw it is now completely clear during our Coates Bluff tour on Saturday.

It was noted that the dog park has not been approved and may have been put off until after elections. It appears people opposed to dog parks are ill-informed as to what they are how they work. Most communities that have them value them.

The next meeting is set for Monday the 12th from 6:15-7:30, where we'll largely plan the meeting of partners.

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