Monday, December 13, 2010

Coffeeshops, Bike Sharing, Master Plan Implementation, Dog Park "Reinvention" at Last Meeting

We had a good meeting at Cohabitat again last week. Topics ranged included bike-sharing programs, the dog park discussions “reinventing the wheel,” master plan implementation, and coffee shops.

In attendance: Jen Anderson, Steph Pedro, Loren Demerath, Maurice Loridans, Robert Trudeau, Cynthia Keith.

We welcomed Jen Anderson, a wildlife ecologist returning to town after being away since high school. We mentioned Murray Lloyd, and Coates Bluff, and the need for people to have access to forest trails and wildlife. Anderson and Pedro used to explore Coates Bluff years ago before college.


The group talked about the failures bike-sharing programs where ever there are mandatory helmet laws. D.C., and Denver have successful ones in this country. Many people don't bike because they don't have bikes or have flats, don't want to maintain the bikes, etc. But the costs of to a city of maintaining shared bikes, or by supporting a bike coop could be easily off-set by saving money in street repair with lower rates of automobile use. A similar economic logic supports public transit improvements.


The group looked at the letter to Councilman Jenkins in which we thanked him for attending last week’s meeting. We noted that our fundraising for the dog park would be greatly assisted by a letter of commitment from him. In that letter he could note what we discussed at our last meeting: that he will propose a change to the leash laws in town that would allow a dog park. Moreover, Jenkins could note that he will work to have the city designate land at Hammel Memorial Park and to have SPAR maintain it, also reminding him that Shelly Raigle has already indicated she supports this scenario.


The group discussed the park and its location. It was noted there are two elephants buried in Shreveport, one along Fairfield behind a house by Kirby, and one in one of the mounds at Hammel Memorial Park. (!!)

Keith recounted her conversations with the Tourist Bureau. Anderson said it was ridiculous that they want to reinvent dog parks when they've been done successfully elsewhere. Outlawing pit bulls may be questionable; Jen Anderson said they're not the number one biting dog, poodles are. But some people will not take their dogs to parks where there are pit bulls. Loridans noted they've been bred to attack other dogs and he wouldn't take his. Anderson said she wouldn't move back to Shreveport unless there was a dog park where she could take her pit bull. Keith noted that dogs behave differently when they're taken off the leash, they keep their eyes on their owners, don't want to stray from them, and are less territorial away from their own yards.

Steph Pedro talked to Kevin Flowers from the Tourist Bureau, and he said he would like to come to some of our meetings. He had worked with Liz Swain at KTBS.


Robert Trudeau reported that Criag Durrett wrote an editorial this past week on both master plans for the city and Caddo Schools (“Vision 2020”). The plans say what we should have down the road. It's a good platform for thinking but he didn't have a lot of citizen input. Instead of saying “You want to see Creswell Elementary close?” one could focus on what we could gain by rebuilding that school. We won't have Goody-Clancy anymore to facilitate this discussions, so we may drop the ball. Keith said the Citizens Advisory Group still exists and has been tasked with being a watch dog for the Master Plan and helping to make sure that the ideas in the plan are implemented. Just last week the Master Plan was officially adopted by the Metropolitan Planning Commission.

Durrett was doing his own analysis of the two plans; not an in-depth analysis, but more of a glancing essay. Trudeau wondered if there was a way the Master Plan be repackaged to put it in the public discourse. Does CAG have a budget for it? The Master Plan itself is redundant as things reappear. But to make it more accessible, a facebook page, youtube videos, etc., might be helpful. Keith mentioned that she thinks CAG is charged with tracking implementation. It wasn’t know if they have a budget for it.

Loridans mentioned that in all the discussion about the Creswell school closing, there’s been very little talk about where to build the next one, what it could be like, how it could lead to safe routes to school, other opportunities that are consistent with the Master Plan.


Trudeau asked Pedro what she thinks about communication in this town, being a newcomer returning to the city after college and grad school, like Anderson. She said we don't have an entertainment guide. We have a Fun Guide but it doesn't have a lot of things, and isn’t an entertainment weekly you can pick up at the grocery store. Anderson said she’s tried to find sites for roots culture and communicate with other people her age and its so hard to find anything like that here. It was noted that the Naked Bean Cafe is often mostly high school students. They're not open on Saturday morning til 10, and not open at all on Sunday. It was noted that the Naked Bean’s success would benefit Shreveport. The innovative live music emphasis is a real plus, as is its location and its friendly owners and staff. Improvements could be lighting (lamps to replace fluorescent lights), and carpeting for better acoustics. It offers a range of music, for example every Monday is bluegrass night. A lot of people go to Barnes and Nobel and Starbucks, but they're almost overcrowded. There aren't those types of areas by and large, and that's a big problem.

Pedro also noted she’s encountered people having low self-esteem about the city. Trudeau noted his blog has been writen to combat that.

Loridans was one of two people listed in Shreveport on, the hospitality site for touring cyclists, and meets such people that way. The cyclists who came through from Oregon found the Naked Bean. Steve Godfrey happened to be there, as was Pete Fetterman. They all road down the perfect bike thoroughfare that is Thornhill to the Loridans house and they were impressed by how bikable Shreveport is.

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