Thursday, February 3, 2011

Dog park progress, food co-op, bike-ped master plan; coming meetings: Feb 14 bond issues, Feb 28 education needs

Originally uploaded by colorblindPICASO
Notes by Loren Demerath.

In attendance: Will Loe, Cynthia Keith, Lauren Cummings, Susan Keith, Rob Ruebel, David Young, Maurice Loridans, Susan Fontaine, Garrett Johnson, Sara Galloway, Loren Demerath, Feico Kempff, Steph Pedro, Carolyn Manning.

Cynthia Keith updated us on the dog park, giving background on how it was initially inspired by visitor from Austin who asked where ours was, assuming Shreveport had one. Cynthia in 2008 talked with the Mayor and the director of SPAR who both supported it. In 2009 the front page of the newspaper featured an article on SPAR’s plans for a riverfront dog park, and there was much resistance to it because of a concern that it would come out of the same funds that the maintenance of community swimming pools comes from--but it doesn’t; pool maintenance comes from operating funds, and the park would come from capital funds. More recently, in April, the city called Keith to say they want to take up the idea again, now that things have settled down and misunderstandings have been largely cleared up. The city first suggested doing it at Hamel’s Memorial Park, but discussions since then, primarily among ABS folks, SPAR, and city council members have shifted the likely location to somewhere near the Stoner Boat Launch area and skate park. There’s an 18” clay cap that exists there over a former landfill, but it appears stable and functional. The Dog Park Committee of ABS is still looking at sites and discussing the merits of different locations, but it may work in either place. The advantage of putting it at the riverfront is that its not just one neighborhood’s district but everyone’s district.

Keith described some of the details of parks, such as having separate small and large dog sides, fence heights, guidelines for use (no kids, animal vacinations, etc.; no “aggressive” dogs--perhaps being breed specific, but the director of the Caddo Parrish Animal Shelter does not want to be breed specific, [maybe recognizing the high percentage of owners of well-behaved pit-bulls, etc; or that the variation within breeds for aggression is much greater than the aggression between breeds?]) Cynthia also noted the therapeutic and social benefits of being around dogs for those that don’t have them and can watch them. It will be self-policed. Speaking of which, the Shreveport Police are all for it, because it would have a calming effect on the environment. In sum, it would serve the health and happiness of the city overall.

This year the committee would like to make Feruary 27th, the Barkus and Meaux Parade a date by which the dog park site is decided and we’re “go” on fundraising for it. The city has agreed to help supplement funds as needed once we’ve completed a concerted fundraising campaign.

At the meeting on Saturday with the committee and Caddo Parish, Commissioner David Cox, it was noted the city can use this to show progress in implementing the master plan. It was heard that the Parish would consider maintaining it. It was also noted that the Parish might be able to help us write a grant for funding.

So, piecing together help from city, parish, citizens, and corporate sponsors (e.g., “Cane’s” with its Golden Retriever symbol, and Purina, with a plant here) support should come together.

Politically, Councilman Jenkins says he does not want a split vote; 4 to 3 would include that and might be considered too contentious.

The city said (Katherine Kennedy with SPAR) said they’d like to start by May, perhaps as part of a Movie and Moonbeams celebrating the new park and aimed at inviting dog owners to see it.

Steph described the 6.6 acre area that is between the skate park and the boat launch parking lot. It’s a better, less floodable location than at Hammel’s. Steph talked to a fence company about how one might be constructed. Will Loe (a landscape architect) mentioned that you need a third below grade to make a certain kind of fence; Will thought Stoner that would be a better location; restrooms, skate park, disc course, parking, walkable to neighborhoods, across the street from the coming Riverscape development--when it comes time for sidewalk development there they could like to this. Galloway mentioned that the riverfront is an extraordinary resource. The landfill aspect is not a problem [as Jeff Wellborn’s subsequent messages have stated, the clay cap has not eroded and remains functional]. Pedro and Keith went to the Stoner site recently and did not see any glass; their dogs were there and didn’t get glass on their feet. It was noted that many schools are built on landfills.

At the South Shreveport Business Association dinner, it was noted that Jenkins said he thought ABS should go ahead and decide where it thinks the park should go and get on to raising money for it. All seemed to agree with that.

Pedro spoke with Ragel today and she said the city has started to meet to define ordinances with regard leash laws.

The committee is moving ahead with the fundraising and putting a paypal button on the web. (And, if called for, they could help with putting one for ABS too; one for Coates Bluff, etc.; wherever there are needs for funds.)

Zocolo’s is a restaurant that’s having a “Best in Sheaux” event soon.


Carolyn reported on the radio show and mentioned said a lot of people are upset about the $2.50 per month. She’s learned that the city is not making a profit on it, it’s to cover the costs of the program. Carolyn asked Micheal Corbin to ask Pratt how much they contribute to the landfill, and what they don’t recycle and what they do with it. Corbin said he’s told they keep materials in storage until the price goes up enough to make it worth selling. Maybe it’s stored at the landfill? Separately from actual refuse? Part of the resistance to the fee is people’s suspicions that what they’re paying to be recycled isn’t getting recycled. Corbin will try to find out.

Michael Hughes is an amazing person, Carolyn said. Anyone can drop their stuff off there, including old cars. He has relationships with specialized recycling companies. He disposes of virtually 100% of products, such as washing machines, stripping down the machines. He has a company that creates mulch out of brush that is taken to them.

Carolyn would like to coordinate with this company with the city. Maybe certain dates where leaves get made into mulch. The city used have a yard waste program that could be remade into a more productive one in terms of creating something more useful.

Loridans said its alright if they can’t do anything with certain materials, but the public needs to know what would help if we don’t load them up with and could eventually cut costs. Also, this may be part of the contract.

Brian Salvatore’s wording in his email would be fine to use as part of a letter, it was noted. The community should support the idea of recycling, but we need more information on the fee, etc. before drafting a letter.

It was noted we could also approach the problem from the other end, such as banning plastic bags, as in California.

It was decided that we would wait to hear from Cobin and revisit the issue at a themed meeting on this. We can draft a letter at that time.


Pedro and Caroline Majors were congratulated for submitting a grant application to the Community Foundation for $78K for the bike-ped plan for the education and outreach portion of it, working with Thinkfirst to do so.


Loridans noted that Aubry had mentioned the new store in Allendale that is not selling tobacco and other things seen as non-healthy; it could be a site for the guerilla whole food project. Demerath recently chatted with Jen Courtney about the need for a permanent site.


It was decided that February 14th would be a discussion of bond issues, and February 28th would be a discussion of education. Brian Salvatore will co-chair the education meeting.


Cohabitat has a conference call phone that we will work to have available at subsequent meetings. Details to come.

The next meeting will be a open meeting about any issues that people want to discuss.


dog park said...

I agree with your Comments.!

cynthik said...

Dear dog park responder, Shreveport Dog Park Alliance (an arm of ABetterShreveport) thanks you for your comments. It was interesting to re-read where the city, parish and the alliance stood a year ago. A lot has been accomplished since this was originally posted, but not as much as we desired. At the time of this post the city was beginning to look into the changing of the ordinance to read that dogs can be off-leash in designated areas. The ordinance was passed in July 2011. After much consideration, we have agreed to place the dog park at Hamel Memorial Park on our riverfront and plan on 7.5 acres total. This site selection passed in Sept 2011. Contrary to these previous notes, the city councilman over this area feels the alliance should raise all the money, build the park and the city will maintain it, as it currently does since this is the site of an existing park area. Obviously the dog park didn't open by May and the city is relying on us to raise all funds to design and build, but adhere to their specifications. Finding funding has not been as easy as we thought, Purina will not give, Raising Cane's Restuarants will help and we are pursuing other businesses and animal friendly folks. We are in full fund raising mode now. Any ideas would be appreciated.