Monday, February 14, 2011

Dog Park Fund Established with the Community Foundation, Downtown Dance Hall Supported at Last Meeting

In attendance: Sara Galloway, Rob Rubel, Maurice Loridans, Paula Hickman, Feico Kempff, Brian Salvatore, Robert Trudeau, Cynthia Keith, Steph Pedro, Loren Demerath, Christine Alba, Bill Pogue, Brent Richardson, David Aubry


The group voted to establish a fund under the administration of the Community Foundation to collect funds for the dog park that would be paid to the city for its construction. Among the points made in the discussion prior to the vote: the deadline of a year and a half from now is good as it sets a time-table for fund-raising and progress; if “substantial completion” is not completed by that time the funds could be used for other animal related puposes; degree of completion is not critical; monies would be paid to the city as it is going to be constructing and maintaining it; the parrish may be approached for financial support.


Hickman reminded the group of the Aspen Institute events coming up, the first on education on the 24th that will precede our ABS focused meeting on education on the 28th.

Trudeau also announced that Thursday night Dr. Mario Livio will be speaking at Magnet High School 6:30; a senior scientist at the Hubble research group at John’s Hopkins.


The group heard Bill Pogue describe his project downtown. He is a friend and client of Loridans. Pogue is a chiropractor, martial arts instructor, and, Loridans said, a person with an innate sense of design. He owns the only tattoo school in the world located here in Shreveport. He wants people who are flying in to the school to be able to walk around the downtown area and get what they need in terms of leisure, retail, recreation, etc. The building is where Ship Radio was, and he wants to turn into a dance hall and bar. He said the city and permits people are kind of mad at him because he did some things a bit our of order, trying to get things done they only way he could. The Rescue Mission has become an opponent of his project, claiming there can’t have a place that sells alcohol within 300 feet of a church, but that may not be as the crow flies but as one would walk via sidewalks. The Rescue Mission also might not qualify as a church, though they are using a religion to straighten people out. It was noted that homeless people can’t afford the drinks in a bar and would more likely go to a convenience store to buy much cheaper alcohol. It was also noted that there are two other bars already closer to the Rescue Mission than this would be.

Pogue spoke to the history of the building. It’s not quite big enough to be “hall”; but the idea is to have it open early for bignets and coffee, a one dish lunch, and in the evening to stress Cajun and Zydeco for dancing. They’ve tried to save a lot of the materials and exposed brick; they’ve tried to make it look like an old south Louisiana bar.

At first DDA said they don’t support bars, but after seeing it they’re now in favor. In one city office Pogue was first told he needed to furnish expensive, professional drawings, but after providing them was told he didn’t need them. Parking was initially a concern but there is enough parking it now appears.

Asked if this will make him go to Bossier, Pogue said others have said that’s why they’ve moved.

People have complained to him that no one can tell you what to do, then when you do it, they tell you you’ve done something wrong. He would not advise someone to do something like this because it’s so difficult to do it they way they want. You have to pay cash for all the renovations and then if you did it right you get reimbursed. If he is denied at his next appearance before the MPC, he can’t come up again in a year.

It was noted that the MPC is likely unaware of these kinds of difficulties or is constrained by other factors in being unable to rectify them. Either way, Pogue can help be a pathmaker in pointing out problem areas that could lead to an improvement in procedures that will make it easier for others subsequently to revitalize downtown by renovating historic buildings.

It was noted that promoting mixed use is the way to revitalized cities. Residences and offices can be located above retail and leisure sites such that there is always life on the street, adding to its security.

Elliot Stonecipher has apparently reported that Shreveport’s property taxes are the highest of any mid-sized city in the country with these characteristics; it’s also known that we are the largest city by area for a city of 200,000 in the country. We’re the king of sprawl for cities our size, it was said.

The inner city has become so hard to develop and its become far more costly to refurbish a building in the core than build a new one on the outside. ABS has consistently pointed out how research shows that urban sprawl results in more travel time, poorer health, more storm-water run-off and pollution, and even less social interaction due to fewer pedestrian environments, and less participatory recreation such as bicycling and walking.

It was noted that to make a better Shreveport we all need to figure out how to reduce the confusion and hold-up caused by single complainants such as the Rescue Mission. We’ve talked about a unified development code in our Master Plan. The best city council can do is not get into a day-to-day case-by-case process, Everson should champion and fund a unified development code. These kinds of cases shouldn’t have to get to a council level every time something goes wrong.

The group voted to write an email that describes ABS’s belief in the importance of a mixed used downtown generally, and in support of Pogue’s dance hall project in particular.


In signing the papers for the dog park fund, we realized we didn’t have a strategic director for ABS, and with the kind of work Pedro has consistently done for the organization, she would be a natural fit for that position. It was moved and seconded that she be nominated, and all board members present voted to elect her to the position.

Demerath said he would prepare wording for an update of the by-laws to include descriptions of the Strategic Director and CAO positions.


It was noted that our next meeting, on Valentine's Day, will focus on the bond issue and DDA director Liz Swain will attend. Swain will also guest with Adam Causey on the radio show that Monday at 5 on 91.3.

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