Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Call for Support of Dog Park Location and Fundraising Strategic Plan at Last Meeting

In attendance: Andrew Gaiennie, Marissa Gaiennie, Cynthia Kieth, Loren Demerath, Carolyn Manning, Steph Pedro, Amy O'Pry, David Young, Ken Hawkins, Susan Browder

The group reviewed the minutes from last week, and discussed the low-water bridge idea, as well as the idea of inexpensively turning the drainage ditches in the city to bike paths. It was noted that perhaps one of the civil engineer members of ABS—Patrick Furlong or Roger Barnes--could review the low-water bridge, and grate ideas.
There are issues of vegetation accumulating (though they deal with that as it is now somehow) and of how get in and out of the ditch easily.
There's a bridge at Veteran's Park going to the disc golf course. Cynthia will take a picture of and upload it.
Boulder City Nevada has done something like this that Ian Webb once saw and described to the group.
Ken asked about people's perceptions of trails increasing passersby behind houses and if it's politically feasabile because of fears of crime and property values. Carolyn noted that many neighborhoods that have overcome those fears successsfully, and the positive changes to the neighborhoods along the Katy Trail in Dallas are evidence of it relatively nearby. Loren mentioned how research seems to consistently show that crime goes down when trails are introduced, apparently because they increase “watchful eyes” and make criminals less likely to use those spaces as means of breaking into homes. (Loren was once told by a friend who used to live near a ditch [Deborah Slaughter] that our drainage ditch areas are used by burglers often just as they are now, so its not hard to imagine that any change would be an improvement.) Marissa noted that lighting can be an issue that can help safety, but it was also noted that there may be an expectation that if they're not lit to not expect the same degree of safety and that is part of the nature of any trail. Amy asked if it had been done in other areas. Loren recalled how he had presented on the idea at the Tulane School of Public Health and how faculty pointed outside the window to Canal Street as an example of capping a drainage canal; the area in the middle of the street where the trolleys run used to be a drainage ditch just like the many we have. Loren also mentioned the example in Shreveport in Columbia Park where a capped ditch makes a pedestrian boulevard. Amy noted that we're not reinventing the wheel then.

Amy said she's done a lot of fundraising and can probably help us, and that she's excited about the possibilities for a dog park.
Steph summarized the dog park effort, and she noted other successes in public-private partnerships in the city, such as The Right to Play organization raising money for the playground at A.C.Steere park, and Greenwood Cemetary raising $200,000 in just ten days.
Steph described the difference between “barn building,” where you hire a builder to build it for you, and “barn raising,” where the community that will use the barn builds it together. “Barn building,” then, is where you decide what you want ahead of time and hire a fundraiser to raise the funds. “Barn raising” on the other hand is where community planning is integrated into the fundraising process such that public conversations and a sense of ownership come out of the fundraising. This also involves getting money from the people that would use what's being built, and in the process of donating funds and contributing in kind they can influence the design of the “barn” that's being raised.

Cynthia reported that she had handed in the forms the city wanted on August 1st, but the city is saying we turned it in on August 4th, and that pushes the date back of the vote on the location. Steph and Cynthia are on the Dog Park Committee but are not voting members. It doesn't appear there are any non-government officials on the committee (among the members are the Parish attorney Charles Grubb, SPAR Planner Tim Wachtel, and SPAR Director and Assistant Shelly Raigle and Catherine Kennedy). But, the public has a chance to comment on the location of the park. After 30 days of being posted on the web site and being made available for public comment the committee will vote on it.
It was noted that the most immediate and pressing task before us is asking people to call SPAR at 673-SPAR and tell them that they support Hamel Park as Shreveport's first dog park location.

The less immediate but far more demanding task will be fundraising. By July of 2012 we need to have made significant progress toward our goal of $250,000, and the park itself needs to have been begun in construction, otherwise, we will lose any money we've raised and it will go to some other fund benefiting dogs and pets.
As part of training ourselves in how to ask for contributions, Steph and Cynthia played the roles of ABS members asking for help from business executives who might see value in having the name of their business displayed as a contributer to the park, and Loren and Carolyn played the roles of executives.
After the role play, Amy asked if about our budget and if we had set amounts yet for different name placements. The budget is $250,000 and a black powder chain link fence has been priced at $35,000. We also discussed various prices for displays, such as $1,000 for a brick to be displayed around a fountain. Amy said she was imagining a map that would be created on the website with various possible placements of company names. We would then recruit each company for particular advertizements and give them the different areas as options, numbered on the map. Amy noted that fundraisers have to be enthusiastic about the value of the company contributing and their involvement in the park, “Wev'e got to have you. It's a given.” Amy noted that the web site can be a conduit for donating. If we get the foundation down with the team, the tiers of possible contributors, etc., we'll be able to move ahead with a time-line that will schedule what we're going to do and who's going to do it. Carolyn noted that when she was fundraising for bringing trolleys to Dallas (which are now there!) a budget helped. Amy noted that a lot of places can afford to give $50,000 if it gets their name out there. But naming the park can be negative too, such as for people who might not like a particular company for whatever reason. We now have $1,700 and that's from two small fundraisers. A large event, in addition to approaching companies, will be help substantially. Amy suggested that we have a silent auction where people get dressed up and have fun and get people to buy into something that will improve the health of our community. Amy noted that the people that have big money aren't going to go to small events; it's see and be seen. We would need to make it important and have people care. Ask companies like Reeves Marine and others to give gifts, trips, etc.
Our Facebook stats indicate success so far and a lot of community buy-in: 111,000 views on our dog park page, and 667 users. A lot of our users are young women. Steph noted that most of the men are between 24 and 30; one person said they've heard young men saying they'd look forward to the dog park because of the single women that would be there. We can also advertize for sponsorships.
Amy's family has the Dogtired Ranch and raised money for that. Maybe there could be ties with this. Steph mentioned there could be workshops at the park as well.

On the action item of asking people to support the location of the dog park, Marissa said can get the word out at LSU Med School and Susan's husband is in graphic design and perhaps could help with a flyer. Health benefits for the person would be imporant for the flyer. We need a tag line. Something very brief and catchy and positive. Can talk about spay and neuter.
Another action item is needing to make a calendar that will reflect our overall strategic plan. That strategic action plan would include who's in charge of what and what we're going to do. But we need our army collected and identified. People that care will help. We can have 1 or 2 people from each place that would likely care and put them in charge some task and make them accountable.
Steph noted that when we get a fence donor (we have the labor donated already) we'll start building the fence as soon as the location is approved. Amy noted that we could maybe get a “founding member” who'd donate the fence. Steph noted that it's a lot about following up, and Amy said enthusiasm must seal the deal. “These guys are in, you need to be in. There's only a few spots left...” etc. Don't put the people out in front who aren't enthusiastic.
Loren noted that a handful of people with lots of money would give us what we need, more than a hundred of people who don't have much. Steph noted that although that's more barn building than raising, she's flexible and practical and would go along with that approach too.
Next week's meeting will focus on Coates Bluff. Jon, Steph and Loren met with Mike Renfroe last week, Loren has talked with a Shreveport connection who works at Rails-to-Trails in D.C. for help, and there'll be lots more to discuss!


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