Monday, May 9, 2011

Shreveport Common Planning & Multiculturalism Discussed at Last Meeting

In attendance: Maurice Loridans, April Dahm, David Nelson, Cynthia Keith, Loren Demerath, Feico Kempff, Carolyn Manning.


Loren expressed his disappointment at hearing the message of the opening drum group (not from the Aseana Foundation) that implied all non-Christians are not going to heaven. Loren felt it was inappropriate at multicultural festival. Maurice noted that many of the Asians there were Filipino, most of whom are Catholic, and that free speech protects what they said. A prayer over the loudspeaker is not protected, but “follow my God” is. Loren agreed that we don't have “anti-judgemental” speech laws, but said we do have increasingly tolerant culture that values diversity. It was noted that it was otherwise a wonderful festival, though, and the Maker's Fair was equally as succesful. Adding ArtBreak at the convention Center and it was a great day to be downtown.


Feico distributed a notice of a press release of March 18th announcing HUD's awarding of a planning grant to create a transformation plan for Allendale and Ledbetter Heights part of a neighborhood revitalization initiative. The plan should facilitate economic development and improve quality of life, connecting service providers and schools and lead to a more mixed income, sustainable neighborhood. The first paragraph lists all the partners, though it was noted they haven't begun talking yet.


April described the meeting that she had just had with Mayor Glover with Kim Mitchell and Pastor Webster West from Antioch Baptist Church, Curtis West Junior, and Murphey Cheatem about the West Edge Ledbetter Heights Initiative Opportunity Study. Mayor Glover said he is committed to coaching the different partners as a team to having clear communication about how developments are going to affect the rest of the downtown community including about what the Shreveport Common can be. Feico said he's conflicted about what the money will do; April would like to know how the money is being spent. David said we probably shouldn't detail the number too much. 5.2 million in private funds have been raised for renovating the fire station, including insurance money. It was noted that Shreveport Common is within the Ledbetter-Allendale neighborhood area.

One person said the planning process has not created confidence. The meetings they've had are where there are presentations. They've included breakdown sessions, “listening sessions,” and all the meetings have led to the beginning of parts of a scheme but no overview of one.

There was concern over targeting spaces that are occupied. The need for the green space was also unclear; if it is needed they would like to be shown how and why that is. They haven't seen examples of the planners' work, so its hard to buy into what's happened.

It was noted that we need to have a meeting with SHRAC to clarify things.

April reviewed the ownership of various properties as the group looked at the map online. TACA would like to have a center for small business development for the rest of the avenue at some place on the street.

Feico noted Millenium's expansion will be extensive, and April noted that it could be a big anchor for getting more market value residence downtown. But it was also noted that it may be so gated that it might not attract people, similar to the insulated effect of the casinos. But it was said there may be multiple draws and we needn't be myopic in scope. April talked about the goal of gaining 6 to 7 thousand people living downtown in the western area. It's several agencies and organizations coming together to make it happen.

Loren said he would tell Pam Atchison that we'll wait until Stephanie Pedro gets back into town to decide on a partnership because we're hearing different things about how the planners will be involved. A planning audit of what's being done is not the same as having urban planners conduct the work. Further, Gregory Free, who would otherwise do the planning, is not an urban planner; having a degree in Historical Preservation Planning and Architecture is not the same as having a degree in Urban Planning.

The next meeting on the following Monday will feature information, suggestions, and brainstorming on what Jennette Ginsberg's summer project of capacity building for ABS might entail, as well as updates and schedules to make for Coates Bluff and Shreveport Common meetings.

No comments: