Sunday, February 21, 2010

Meetings with Mike Strong of Operational Services, and April Dahm of the Downtown Group

Jon Soul, Feico Kempff, Loren Demerath, and Angie Day (Director of the Montessori School for Shreveport) met with Mike Strong, the Director of Operational Services for Shreveport (i.e., the guy in charge of streets, sewer right of ways, and just about everything!) and Wayne Goss, Senior Property Management Specialist. It was a good meeting. Wanna know what Mike said about using drainage ditches and the like for trails and greenways n' such? Then come to our greenways and streets meeting tomorrow night. There was good news and bad news. We'll fill you in on all the "too hot to print" details. (And we'll offer you a cup of tea, too.)

We also had a great ABS general meeting last week. Here's a summary:

Meeting Notes for 2.15.10: Present: Robert Trudeau, Cynthia Keith, April Dahm, Maurice Loridans, Loren Demerath, Feico Kempff, Carolyn Manning

The group talked about Maurice, Loren and others having biked the parade routes of the Centaur and Gemini parades the "Cyclovia" that is offered to bikes before the parades start but after they've been closed to cars.

The group discussed Bill Weiner's proposal that had been published in the Times that day. It noted that though the segment at issue is south of the city so doesn't serve strong transportation needs, it could serve recreation purposes and work to preserve natural habitats as well as increase our opportunities to appreciate them.

Discussed different views of bicyclists and how by law they "own" the road as much as drivers, but de facto, drivers predominate and provide the majority of funds for roads that are accordingly designed to meet their needs more than those of cyclists and pedestrians. To mix cars and cyclists may be legal idealism more than practical reality.

The group discussed the possibility of overusing the a-better-shreveport email group, and how online discussion boards might work better; how some people might be more expressive if they knew it wasn't clogging everyone's inbox. There was agreement about that, though it was also noted that people can observe a discussion of issues that they otherwise wouldn't just via the subject headings; that they don't have to read the whole actual if they don't want to. It was agreed there was a tradeoff, and that online discussion boards also require maintenance. It was noted that as we gain friends on Facebook we can continue to invite people to the ABS FBook group. Can use that discussion forum. Discussed not being able to erase previous posts to that discussion board.

Discussed park potentials in certain downtown spaces and spent time indicating promising places on the map for parks.

The group returned to Weiner's proposal, and Robert suggested we draft a letter to the parish government in support of it, and others agreed.

The group discussed the meeting last week with Paula Hickman, Sharron Swanson, and Caroline Majors, and how the planners of MHS&M can help plot the best route, not simply work with what's already been determined by being bought, or donated. The Downtown group will be working with that firm as well, helping to bring people to the table for planning.

Robert said at the Master Plan meetings people had noted the need for signage and connectivity. April noted Shreveport's music identity internationally, and how it has been coated and forgotten.

Barbara asked about a public performance area in the Master Planning discussions. The Mayor was quoted as saying certain kinds of loud and potentially offensive can turn people off. Barbara said an acoustic or decibel level as well as a no-offensive language set of ordinances could handle that.

It was noted the fun guide has been a success in publicizing events; it was said to contain 80 to 90% of the stuff going on.

April got people up to date on the Downtown Group and the Texas Avenue Community Association (TACA) that includes Allendale, downtown, and the old crosstown neighborhood of which Feritta's is a part, and where the old Blue Goose blues club was. Joe Augustini told April about it. Askari Hinton was in Dallas and web searched the Blue Goose and it turns out it's his family's property. He's now going to build and sell studios for artists and different kinds of housing and build housing that references the historical shotgun style. The TACA is working on getting their non-profit status, and they have a number of board members committed. They've asked for seed money from Holy Cross Church, and are aiming for a phone, and office space, etc. Bonnie Moore has partnered with TACA and is supporting them and would like to start on the revitalization in part through supporting this group. There have been a lot of plans for this area, but nothing has gotten off the ground, primarily because of a lack of community support. TACA is going to have their first meeting at Holy Cross.

Another hopeful sign is that one prominant building on downtown has been bought recently and is being cleaned out and refurbished. April noted that because they want to apply for a historic Main Street program they have to do research to apply for funding. In Grapevine Texas Carolyn saw the downtown become a destination because of the Main Street program. They've restored little old buildings and they now have shops and restaurants and jazz clubs; a place you can go in the evening and just walk and hangout. They close up the streets for festivals and have glass blowers, and then weekly farmers markets.

The Downtown Group's work groups consist of utilities and technology, such as improving the power line situation; communications and p.r. including facebook and twitter and press releases.

Robert mentioned the Freeman and Harris memory group and how they are thinking of a Freeman and Harris Food Festival; Barbara recalled how you could get a pint of alcohol on Sunday, keep it under the table and poor it in your coke while you were eating there. Ah, the good ol' days!

At the end of the meeting Feico
Kempff and Carolyn Manning were voted in as board members of ABetterShreveport.

The next meeting will be on March 1st; with the Greenways/Streets group meeting February 22nd.

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