Thursday, September 29, 2011

Duck Pond Rehabilitation, Bicycle Tree Tour, City Infrastructure and More Discussed at Last Meeting

In attendance: Brian Salvatore, Robert Trudeau, Katherine Brandl, Steph Pedro, Maurice Loridans, Cynthia Keith, Daniel Gehrig, Garrett Johnson, Susan Fontaine, Loren Demerath (Loren actually forgot to take attendance; if I missed someone, please comment!)


Susan Fontaine, our Chief Administrative Officer, updated us on several fronts:

Susan has set up four separate categories for tracking funds: dues, donations to ABS, funds raised for the dog park, and funds raised for the Coates Bluff nature and history trail.

Susan asked about how to approve expenditures. It was agreed that any expenditures under $200 should be at the discretion of the executive director. Otherwise, it should be a vote of approval by the board members present at the meeting when either an individual expenditure or a budget is proposed. Alternatively, if a proposal is more pressing, it can be approved as soon as there is a majority total board members that have voted approval via email. It was noted that we should post those procedures and vote them into the by-laws.

Steph noted that we should have a working session one meeting for sugarsynch and mailchimp, and we also need to have Jennette's workshop on capacity building. She's turned it in and just needs to add some edits. {Since the meeting Jennette has sent her report to Loren, who forwarded it to all board members. Monday's meeting will focus on the report and its recommendations. Anyone's welcome, as always.}


Thursday afternoon at 6:00 will be a trial ride with Hallie Dozier, starting at Columbia Restaurant.

Organizational notes:

  • Volunteers for corkers will be solicited from bike shops.

  • Donna Curtis will be on board perhaps for supplying us with something we can plant. (It's been a tough year for trees because of the drought. Downtown it's been hard on trees, though it appears they don't mulch them with anything but rocks. We'll ask Hallie about that when she's in town.)

  • Marion Marks of Marks Forensics has pledged to donate 100 posters.

  • Matthew Linn has pledged to donate snacks, and a sag wagon for the ride, and even a light lunch after the ride.


It was noted that there appear to be water mains that need repair, and those costs weren't included in the bond. At the Woodlawn dead end south of Kings water pours into the drainage ditch from what seems to be a water main.

Steph noted that engineers at Louisiana Tech recently presented on a new technology they've developed where you can spray the inside of a pipe and it seals up like PVC. They're trying it out in Singapore and other faraway places but not Shreveport. Perhaps our city needs to ask them to try it here—we seem to be in a desperate state.

Robert mentioned that there a number of sink holes that have appeared. Brian noted one on Kings by Lex Nursery, and Susan noted on Line. Steph said there's a way you can note a pot hole that needs to be fixed on “click fix” which has been sponsored by Mayor Glover.


Daniel Gehrig talked about the potential of the company he works for (Louisiana Environmental Solutions [LES]) to help improve the duck pond along East Kings Highway. The pond is now four feet down and in that state one can see a need for an environmental rehabilitation. Such rehabilitation would take place particularly between Preston and Shreveport-Barksdale where there's more public land than further south. A task would be the removal of invasive plant and animal species and introduction of more native species. He's already communicated a bit with the Bayou Chapter of the Ozark Society and the Red River Wildlife Refuge. He's also communicated with Dr. Ed Leuck about perhaps using students as part of a service-learning project. {Daniel is a Centenary and Magnet allumn, and former student of both Loren and Robert; they beamed with pride as Danial spoke.}

Artificial fertilizers cause problems at such sites. Steph mentioned there are fines against people using chemicals on their lawns that cause problems for adjacent wetlands, but it's difficult to enforce.

The city wants it taken care of, and, coincidentally, LES has wanted to start an environmental consulting division, and this could serve both interests. A good plan for it should lead to funding, and they can eventually do some of the things necessary, perhaps even dredging. Steph noted they periodically dredge the lakes at LSU Baton Rouge. They did the last on in 04 or 06; she noted it could be a good source for research.

Robert noted there should be support for it since the city is so attached to the duck pond. Loren said he's walked with his kids from Shreveport-Barksdale to the library and was struck by how beautiful it is, but that there was no path; few people have probably had the pleasure of that walk, and yet it's right in the heart of the city, and with a range of desirable destinations on either end. It would seem to be a small task to create a gravel path.


Garrett has talked to Jason Brown (TACA member and local prosecuting attorney) about a bike coop, or, what might be at minimum a used bikes and bike parts depository. Jason has a shed next to his place that is lockable and he's open to using it as such. There was concern about security; it was noted junkies will still old bikes just for the scrap metal. We want to be able to store lots of bikes—50 or more—from people who'd donate them and which we'd use as a resource pool.


Dog Park benefit raised $832 from the dog wash. It was about 60 to 70 dogs that they washed. Dogs get frisky after they get bathed, so there were a lot of dogs playing afterwards; really it was a great example of how a happy dog park functions.

They're still looking for silent auction donations (e.g., lessons for this or that, house concerts, etc.) to pair with the beer- and wine-tasting fund raiser.



Brian noted that we'll hear this week from Prairie Home Companion and weather they'll be coming next year—Garrison Keilor's last before retiring; Kermit Poling is handling the negotiations. If we get it, it was hoped assumed there'd be some of Leadbelly's music, and it was noted that some Saturday in October is Ledbetter's birthday when there's annually a jam at his grave site.


Steph announced that Trevor Stine will be working with us to make demographic maps, industry and commuting patterns; and it will be yet another example of service-learning project done with ABS. Steph even told Trevor that if he does well we'd write a grant to hire him as our demographic GIS mapper on staff. It was noted that there are opportunities to create an information-based culture here and that would create a need for data collectors, analysts and communicators.


Loren updated the group about his coming talk to the Shreveport birding group, and how he hopes to develop a talk that will describe how the Coates Bluff trail provides a model for how other trails can be developed in the city. Such trails would increase access to beautiful pieces of natural wildlife habitat scattered throughout the city. Loren will be using notes from the blog found on the Coates Bluff tab, the slide show with pictures we've developed, and, hopefully, add an abstract step by step guide, along with information on legal concerns.


Steph talked to Caddo Parish Commissioner Matthew Linn about the grant we've applied for fund the costs with setting up a conservation easement. Matthew mentioned that he wasn't familiar with conservation easements and it's likely most of the other commissioners aren't either; they could read the blog entry that Steph wrote explaining what they are; alternatively, Steph would gladly speak at a commission meeting to the same effect. {Later in the week, Loren obtained some easement templates from a contact of his at the D.C. office of Rails-to-Trails, Lindsay Martin, who happens to have family in Shreveport.}


As noted above, Monday's meeting on the 3rd will feature a discussion of Jennette Ginsburg's analysis of ABS needs and recommendations for capacity building. As always, all are welcome!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Velo Dendro 2011 Poster Out, Route Preview Ride Thursday at 6:00

Thanks to great design work and the donation of labor and materials by ABS member Marion Marks here's this year's poster for the tree tour, which happens to feature ABS member Garrett Johnson and Susan Fontaine.

Anyone who'd like to preview the route on bicycle is welcome to tag along with our annual tree expert and ride leader, Shreveport native and LSU-Baton Rouge Professor, Hallie Dozzier, and organizers Robert Trudeau and Garrett Johnson. They'll be meeting at Columbia Cafe, Thursday, September 29th (tomorrow!) at 6:00.

Friday, September 23, 2011

KTBS on Coates Bluff, Demerath to speak on Coates Bluff as a model for increasing urban nature appreciation, Pedro and Lewis put ABS on LANO's map

Some developments over the week:

Robert Trudeau was interviewed by KTAL television news on the Coates Bluff trail (pictured below) and how it's grown and become a tool for teachers as well as a recreational resource for city residents.

Loren Demerath has been invited to speak to the local Bird Study Group headed by retired professor Mac Hardy at LSUS on how Coates Bluff has developed, and how ABS hopes it will serve as a template for developing other such trails in other parts of the city. (And Loren will be inviting other members to join him, if not in speaking [people can be shy or busy], in crafting the talking points.)

Steph Pedro, with the help of formative ABS member and Director of Sankofa, Leia Lewis, has put ABS on the Louisiana Association of Non-Profit Organizations (LANO) map of social service providers. As our mission is to provide a public forum for discussing ideas for improving the quality of life in our city, we belong on that map!

Dog Park Fundraising, Adjudicated Properties and Property Standards Discussed at Last Meeting

In attendance: Kathryn Brandle, Susan Fontaine, Garrett Johnson, Carolyn Manning, Cynthia Keith, John Gilliland, Maurice Loridans, Steph Pedro, Bryan Michael, Susan Keith, Ken Hawkins, Loren Demerath

The group welcomed newcomers John Gilliland is a Lieutenant Colonel at Barksdale, and is interested in a walkable-bikeable Shreveport and planning. Bryan Michael is a paddler and has met others of the group before, and has worked with Cynthia on the police force. Kathryn Brandle knows Loren from being on the faculty at Centenary (Math), but has also met some of the dogpark committee members previously, and is a dog owner.

Susan reported that she would establish the ability to pay dues and donate online with paypal soon. (And she did! Format and use to be discussed at next meeting.)

The group discussed the dog park and the need to meet. They’ll be approaching some potential donors and talked about how the checks should made out and the categories the CFO Fontaine has for that fund.

The next fundraiser approaches: the dog wash is this Saturday 11-2 at 1845 Line Avenue. The fundraiser is still in need of towels for people to donate or have lended to them. We have one hundred and fifty and estimate we need one hundred more. A dollar store was noted as a resource.

November 5th is the beer and wine tasting fundraiser and Carolyn is looking for volunteers to help cook for it (at her house over wine!). One distributor has donated some cases and they are talking to others.

The group discussed the issue of state law dealing with clearing adjudicated property titles as described by Councilperson Jeff Everson on the radio show a few moments earlier. (“Time for ABetterShreveport” on KSCL at 5:00). The Napoleanic law issue has to do with the length of time it takes to clear title. Waiting years for a clear title is a problem here.

On another topic, the issue of environmental courts being used to maintain standards has been advocated in ABS before, but Maurice pointed out that a number of environmental web sites have objected to how community gardeners can be hassled over those issues. Other folks, who may not open their mail promptly, or have certain difficulties. It was noted that we don’t want to be dispossessing elderly people or people who are somehow weren’t getting notice. There can be advantages to living in area that has lax property standards, particularly compared to some highly regulated developments.

However, downtown, Loren noted, is a more public, communal resource that awaits development which would help the city as a whole. Such buildings as the temple can be neglected by out-of-town owners. We have standards but we don’t enforce them. It was mentioned that there are ways of reaching those people, via facebook, etc. Carolyn gets more questions on adjudicated property than anything else in her job as a downtown realtor. If you’re buying rights to an adjudicated property you can work on it. But it’s more likely to be low-end rental properties because they can afford to wait longer. There were a set of very low rent houses here in Shreveport that were built by a family that eventually moved to New Orleans.

The process of gaining access to adjudicated properties is not user friendly for lay people now, but with change of law it could make more so.

Robert Trudeau had reported that Pratt Industries had not been responsive but he would approach them again. (And later, success! They donated a substantial amount that would allow us to provide t-shirts with registration! Thanks Pratt, and thanks Robert!) Garrett reported that the posters are done and he’ll be working on finalizing t-shirt designs. The marketing will be posters, facebook, and email lists. John mentioned that an ad in the Barksdale base newspaper might be useful. The person who has the list from the original ride two years ago is Mike somebody (Leflett?) and is a friend of Carolyn Mills. (Any info from blog readers would be much appreciated!)

There’ll have a pre-ride sware the night before at Columbia Cafe among urban cyclists.

It was noted that we need to check on board member and officer term limits in the by-laws and folks can consider if they’d like to continue and/or nominate others.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Anderson Bayou Cleanup

Anderson Bayou Cleanup
Friday, September 16, 1 - 3pm. We will meet at The Montessori's School for Shreveport --  come around to the parking lot adjacent to the bayou. We will take advantage of the water level being well below normal and get the remaining trash. Play clothes that can get muddy are recommended.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Coates Bluff Nature Trail moving forward; soon you will see hardy benches along the path

Coates Bluff Nature Trail development is being aided by an alliance with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service represented by Lisa Shook and Mike Renfro in recent meetings.

Renfro is funding the materials for trail-side benches. Volunteers will be needed for assembly.

Please see Jon Soul or Stephanie Pedro for more info.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Evidence that bicycle riding is peaking in both NYC and Shreveport

Bike riding is reaching a new peak in frequency and in style in NYC, notes NYTimes columnist Bill Cunningham. Here's a link to the video version of the article.

See evidence of Shreveport's riding corps on Sat, Oct 22, the day of the tour known as Velo Dendro.