Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Councilman Oliver Jenkins and Former Councilman Calvin Lester Attend First ABS Meeting at Cohabitat

CoHabitat Shreveport
Originally uploaded by trudeau
In attendance: Oliver Jenkins, Calvin Lester, Dan Marcalus, Maurice Loridans, Caroline Majors, Feico Kempff, Stephanie Pedro, Cynthia Keith, David Aubry, Loren Demerath.

Notes by Loren Demerath -

Councilman Oliver Jenkins reported that SPAR Director Shelly Raigle said her expectation was that the city would likely maintain it and provide the land and basic infrastructure, but with the additional costs of walling, benches, and fountains being funded through private donations. Jenkins wasn’t sure about how much revenue we could get for it. He said we need concrete deliverables and timelines; more fidelity on roles and steps involved. We need an “operational plan” in military terms. Jenkins said he thought the Hammels area was an improvement over Stoner/Veterans. He also noted, though, that while an elected official can support a idea, there are significant budgetary constraints. He said there have been many deferred maintenance projects of streets, sewers, water, and drainage; to make this work we would need it be a public-private partnership. Jenkins and Aubry both thought the bond issue is not the place for it; it would get lost with the other stuff. Aubry said people have been supportive of the dog park, but it hasn’t had a political champion. Given what has happened to Spar with all budget cuts, no one will make a decision right now. Jenkins said he is happy to be the promoter of that particular ordinance; he’ll sign up for that role, though he noted it’s not a blank check; it depends on budgets what would happen. But he also said there should be no trouble getting private funding for it. Jenkins noted that the Greenwood cemetery project was able to raise a significant amount of money in a short period of time once the offer to match funds came in. Jenkins and Aubry said we can’t put it in SPAR to track, we’re the ones that have the passion to track it. Jenkins said he had someone in mind.

Keith said Raigle said she feels she’s got the money in her budget to take care of it. Ron Webb had earlier said please wait until after the elections. Lester said just because something is the right thing to do, it doesn’t mean there will be support enough get it done. The thing that’s important is to create an advocacy group to help Jenkins help us; but when it come to spending city council resources, coucilpersons become parochial and territorial. By definition the funds used to complete it are surplus funds, there is no category; someone else could say why is yours more valuable than mine? When Shelly says we have leftover money; someone else could make a bid for that surplus money. The more the group comes to the table with, the easier it makes it for him. Put a condition on it where if they raise a certain amount; their hard work is rewarded. Demerath asked if it could be promoted as a pool of money that could be used for dog parks throughout the city, but Jenkins said multiplying it by seven makes it unfeasible. Lester said he was trying to support bayous and linear parks since there are as many bayous in his part of town as another. It was also noted that the riverfront is seen as a city-wide area, being contiguous to downtown and a major recreational space. Lester said if we were to actively solicit pet owners by district and have them email and write their councilpeople, real momentum could be created, and, in addition to private fundraising, could make it happen relatively easily. Keith noted the development of the riverfront is easily inexpensively helped by this. Ford Park, among other spaces, have also been mentioned as places where low scale dog park areas could be set up; places where there can be fenced in areas. Jenkins reminded us that the more you can get done from a resource standpoint the easier it is to sell it. Jenkins knows what his deliverable is, and he’s got Keith’s email. He said we need a timeline; there are too many moving parts, particularly ones we don’t control. We might find a particular contact who’d be amenable to supporting it.

Aubry said we can get sponsors for things like the benches. And, the more groups that are supporting it financially and otherwise, the better. Aubry said there needs to be a non-governmental person who likes to do tv and interviews and can be outspoken. Keith has been good at that but has a governmental affiliation in the tax assessor’s office. Carolyn Manning was mentioned as being a good spokesperson. Stephanie noted that some of us are better at different aspects; writing letters, etc. Let’s start raising some money.


The group then discussed how the rules of the park would work, and generally agreed it can follow the models that have been used so successfully elsewhere. Can have some sort of gatekeeping function; big signs will post the regulations. It will be fenced with large and small dog areas, removing the predator-prey aspect. And if you decide it’s not for you as you look at it with your dog, you’ve got the whole rest of the park to walk with your dog.

Lester asked who we saw as the custodian; we saw SPAR; it would mainly involve cutting the grass, which they do in these places already. Liability is taken care of in rule and regulations that people agree to when they enter the park. A tag is not done elsewhere, and may not be necessary. Lester said it may be better to be safe than sorry. There are things you can do to zero the risk and make any suit a frivolous suit. For out-of-town visitors, could have the paperwork at the tourist information center; put it on the web; can make it in addition to the rabies tag; or it could work on the same principle that public playgrounds use – there’s no paperwork there to protect the city from suits, but it is somehow protected.


Majors and Pedro met again with Kent Rogers of NLCOG last week about the bike-ped plan, and they are enthused about developing partnerships and getting governmental leadership support; NLCOG is on board. They’re in the process of seeing if the city and parish would be on board with it, and working on find a home for the plan once its delivered; also to maybe partner with Bossier; non-profit groups would be good targets as well; benefits of public health, environmental health and appreciation, economic development, all reasons for the plan that are in the state bike-ped plan already are in the rationale for this plan as well.

Pictures were passed around of an architectural salvage store Feico found in Fort Worth. A nice old building that is now used for people to drop off reusable building materials (often for money) that other people can come and buy very cheaply.

Demerath announced the Centenary Urban Sociology Student Service-Learning Project on December 9th, next Thursday at 6:00 at Cohabitat. Among the projects will be a photo inventory of downtown buildings, a compilation of oral histories about downtown, a survey of residents surrounding a potential greenway, and a project linking high schools with higher education. The public is invited.

Sportran is getting a number of new buses that burn natural gas.

Grace Peterson was noted as doing cool stuff with recently with community gardening and schools and educating about local food systems. (She had been on the radio show that night with community gardeners!)

Maurice mentioned an Allendale food coop to target the food desert problem; it wouldn’t sell alcohol, tobacoo, or lottery tickets, but just healthy food. Lester noted he happened to help make that happen; part of working to use the over-abundance of adjudicated properties.

Demerath noted Leia Lewis’ program of Green Circles, with its first orientation meeting going on that night. It’s looking to provide stipends during training of low income, unemployed, and formerly incarcerated people in urban agriculture techniques and then employ them in urban agriculture. Lester noted that pushing supply and a more active Farmers Market pushing demand, could be a good combination.

The meeting went so well there at Cohabitat, a number of us decided to continue it there for the foreseeable future! Here’s to working collaboratively on downtown (and such), in a collaborative workspace, downtown! Hope others can make the shift.

See you next Monday at Cohabitat, 6:00 to 7:00, as usual!

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