Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Join us on Mondays at Centenary Square from 6 to 7:15 pm

Send your email to ldemerath@gmail.com if you'd like to tune in to local issues and find out how to influence local policy.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A message from a person who'd like to bike in this City! please respond to her!

Hi! My name is Caryn Jenkins and I found your contact information on League for American Bicyclists. I am a local cyclist concerned about bike safety in the Shreveport area. I am searching for a way to educate our community on bicycle safety on the roads in our area. The community in general is one of the least bike friendly cities in the US. I would love to be part of that changing. Do you know of any resources or avenues that we can access to educate our community about sharing the roads and who would we contact to get more Share the Road signs out there? Thanks for your help!

Caryn Jenkins

Friday, August 26, 2011

What you may want to know about conservation easements...

Source:  http://www.enotes.com/everyday-law-encyclopedia/easements

Conservation Easements
A conservation easement, a type of express easement, is created by a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and another party, usually the government, which restricts the development of a piece of land. Under certain specific conditions, conservation easements are recognized by the U. S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS). If IRS requirements are met, the landowner may qualify for certain tax incentives. The requirements for a conservation easement approved by the IRS are as follows:

The easement must have a valid conservation purpose; that is, the easement holder must be satisfied that protection of the land or resources is justified for conservation reasons. Different land trusts and government entities have different requirements that must be satisfied. Generally, the IRS requires purposes such as the following:

  • Outdoor recreation by, or the education of, the general public
  • Protection of a relatively natural habitat of fish, wildlife, or plants
  • Preservation of open space
  • Preservation of historically important land area or buildings

The agreement must be completely voluntary: no one can force a landowner to enter into a conservation easement agreement. A conservation easement may be either donated or sold by a landowner to an easement holder.

The agreement must be legally binding. It is recorded as a Deed of Conservation Easement. The agreement is binding on both present and future owners of the property. Both the landowner and the qualified easement holder must be in a position to enforce the terms of the agreement. This requirement recognizes the easement holder's responsibility for periodic inspection of the property with the landowner.

The agreement must be permanent and irrevocable. A conservation easement must be permanent in order to qualify for the income and estate tax benefits provided by the IRS. If a conservation easement is valid for a set period of time only, for instance, ten years, the landowner may be eligible for certain property tax benefits but is not eligible for federal and state income and estate tax benefits.

The easement must be held by a qualified easement holder, i.e., a government entity or a land trust. While any government entity can hold an easement, those most likely to hold conservation easements include city and county governments and certain federal agencies, such as the U. S. Forest Service and the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. A land trust is a private, nonprofit corporation.

The easement must restrict development of the land. Ownership of land includes a number of legally recognized rights, including the rights to subdivide, sell, farm, cut timber, and build. The goal of devising a conservation easement is the landowner's voluntary agreement to give up one or more of these rights in order to protect certain natural resources. Prohibitions could include such matters as limitations on roads, structures, drilling, or excavating. The landowner could retain certain rights as long as those rights did not interfere with the conservation goals of the easement. For example, the landowner could retain the right to use the land, to restrict public access, and even to construct additional structures on certain sites.

When a landowner donates a permanent conservation easement to a land trust, the landowner may deduct the value of the easement from federal and state income taxes. The value of an easement is the difference between the FAIR MARKET VALUE of the land without the restriction and the fair MARKET VALUE after the restriction. If the value of the parcel exceeds $5000.00, the value of the conservation easement must be computed by a certified APPRAISER. The landowner can deduct up to 30 percent of the ADJUSTED GROSS INCOME over a period of six years until the value of the easement is exhausted, if the property has been held for investment purposes for more than twelve months.

The organization that holds the easement has the right to enter and inspect the property and is legally obligated to assure that the property is in compliance with the terms of the easement.

Preservation Easements
Similar to conservation easements, preservation easements protect against undesirable development or indirect deterioration. Preservation easements may provide the most effective legal tool for the protection of privately owned historic properties. Such easements are usually expressly created and incorporated into formal preservation easement deeds. Preservation easements can prohibit such actions as alteration of the structure's significant features, changes in the usage of the building and land, or subdivision and topographic changes to the property. The property continues on the tax rolls at its current use designation rather than its value if developed, thereby giving the property owner a certain tax benefits.

The same standards are used as in conservation easements to determine the qualified tax DEDUCTION. The DONOR is entitled to a charitable contribution deduction in the amount of the fair market value of the donated interest. However, an easement to preserve a historic structure must protect a structure or area listed in the National Register or located in a National Register district and certified by the Secretary of the Interior as being of historic significance to the district. The donation of an easement over an historically important land area includes land that is either independently significant and meets National Register criteria for evaluation or is adjacent to a property listed individually in the National Register of Historic Places in a case where the physical or environmental features of the land area contribute to the historic or cultural integrity of the property.

The definition of a historically important land area includes structures or land area within a registered historic district, except buildings that cannot reasonably be considered as contributing to the significance of the district. To qualify as a preservation easement the donation must be protected in perpetuity. Because of this point, rights of mortgagers must be carefully set out in the easement to avoid loss of the easement in the event of FORECLOSURE.

Uses of Easements
Once an easement is created, the owner of the easement has the right and the duty to maintain the easement for its purpose unless otherwise agreed between the owner of the easement and the owner of the underlying property. The owner of the easement can make repairs and improvements to the easement, provided that those repairs or improvements do not interfere in the use and enjoyment of the easement by the owner of the property through which the easement exists.

Transfer of Easements
Easement Appurtenant
When the title is transferred, the easement typically remains with the property. This case is known as an easement appurtenant. This type of easement ldquo;runs with the landrdquo; which means that if the property is bought or sold, it is bought or sold with the easement in place. The easement essentially becomes part of the legal description.

If a parcel of property with an easement across it is sub-divided into smaller lots and sold to different people, and the geography is such that each of the smaller lots can benefit from the easement, then each will usually be permitted to use the easement.

Easement in Gross
Traditionally, easements in gross were easements that could not be transferred and were not tied to a particular piece of land. A person could grant an easement across a residence to a neighbor, but this type of easement would not continue with the new neighbor if the neighbor holding the easement sold the property. Today, courts typically refer to these types of easements as ldquo;personalrdquo; easements. Nevertheless, an easement that began as personal may be transferable, particularly if it is a commercial easement, such as a utility easement.

Termination of Easements
Unlike other types of interests in land, easements may be terminated by ABANDONMENT under certain circumstances. Simply stating a desire to abandon the easement is not be enough. Words alone are legally insufficient to constitute abandonment. However, if the easement holder intends to abandon an easement and also takes actions which manifest that intent, that is sufficient to show abandonment of the easement, and it can be terminated. One action that qualifies as manifesting intent is non-use of the easement for an extended period of time, despite the holder of the easement's having had an extended period of access to the easement.

Monday, August 22, 2011

ABetterShreveport Meeting CANCELLED Monday, August 22 , 2011 @ Centenary Square

Many folks cannot attend the meeting tonight, so we are taking a break and will see you next Monday, August 29!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Nancy Larned on keeping alive energy audit and related jobs and programs

Writes Nancy Larned of Blue Green Sustainability: We really need your help. The State’s HERO program is prematurely expiring at the end of this month if minor process changes aren’t made. North Louisiana has just gotten up to speed and is at a pivotal tipping point in our efforts. New Orleans just kicked off their program this past month. There is approximately $8 million in ARRA funds that Louisiana is returning due to early unnecessary end, as well as a halt in the momentum in reducing our energy usage in this area.

Key points:

La DNR’s Empower Louisiana HERO program provides cash incentives of $2,000 to $5,000 to residents and small commercial owners who make specific improvements to their buildings and achieve at least a minimum level of energy use reduction.
The process requires an initial energy audit, conducted by a certified energy rater, followed by the retrofits and improvements. A final energy audit measures the energy-savings impact of the work and triggers the rebate.
Due to factors beyond our control, the North Louisiana efforts were late to start and the minimal marketing initially done in this area did not reach the potential HERO customers due to the lack of efforts/programs in place to promote and support the HERO program.
When the Empower Louisiana HERO program initiated in May of 2010, the cutoff date for the initial audit was December 31, 2011 with a Program Completion Date of April 30, 2012.
In January, 2011 it was revised based on the ability for home and business owners to get the work completed and for the State to process the paperwork. Project Eligibility End Date for Preliminary Submittals was changed to August 31, 2011, allowing a 6 full months for work to get completed.
Recently launched: SEED Shreveport’s Energy Efficiency Division adds benefits to the HERO program.
$100 total audit cost (vs. $475+ for outside of municipal Shreveport)
Bank partnerships – offering lower rates and special terms for Energy Efficiency Loans
A concentrated education and outreach program to promote HERO in Northwest Louisiana.
Our Energy Raters in just the Shreveport/Bossier area are modestly estimating an average of 60+ residential and 100+ commercial audits per month based on the contracts and conversations they are currently involved in.
80% of the audits in our area have a 2 to 3 week turnaround time between initial and final audit, not six months.
The City of New Orleans would also benefit from this statewide extension as their energy program has now developed to the appropriate level as well.

There is a large group of energy efficiency conscious professionals and residents in our state and we have all been working hard to make the transition into a more environmentally focused community. We are successfully creating awareness, creating green jobs and cutting our greenhouse gas emissions.

Ending the HERO program prematurely could have a negative impact on jobs and economic development statewide.

Your support in our efforts would help us make a huge difference in our community. We have requested that LDNR give us a 60 day maximum window versus the 6 months they have allocated. This would restore program eligibility back to the end of December.

We don't want to lose the momentum that we all have worked so hard to create. We have so far to go and we need this program to be successful as the catalyst for our energy efficiency future.

With sincerest thanks and kindest regards,


Nancy J. Larned
Energy Efficiency and Environment Consultant
BlueGreen Sustainability

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Coate Bluff Trail Planning Gets Strategic at Last ABS Meeting!

In attendance: Marion Marks, William Hartman, Nadine Charity, William Hartman, Wes Wyche, Cynthia Keith, Susan Keith, Jon Soul, Mike Renfroe, Lisa Shook, Maurice Loridans, Loren Demerath


Jon gave an update on the trail. The bayou is two to two and a half feet down below normal. Not all the grocery carts are out apparently. More trash needs to be taken out. Maurice and Jon have worked on the part of trail giving access from one area. The trail should be ready for use again after pruning back the poison ivy and dead fall in late October or early November. That said, Maurice was surprised at how easily he rode up the trail on a mountain bike from Montessori all the way to the point until where the big tree lies across the tail.

Maurice also rode from the Cat Hospital in the concrete culvert all the way to Alexander, only having to go up out of the culvert behind just before the bridge because of leaking pipes. He also noted he was able to ride up and out of the culvert by going diagonally up the slope, and that the mountain bike tires were likely critical for that maneuver.

Jon noted the 200 yards north of Sevier St. is where the trash box is and that’s where the outdoor classroom will be for up to 45 students. Lisa and Jon have drawn it up and priced it out. There will be an area for small groups and an amphitheater area for larger groups. The materials would be wooden boards with nuts and bolts.

Steph summarized how this is the 4th Coates Bluff meeting of the summer and the strategic plan posted on the blog summarizes where we want to go, what we’ve done, and how we can measure our success. So far we’ve put in at $20,000-$30,000 of work in kind so far. Steph and Maurice and Loren have all talked to different organizations about how to tackle liability and ownership issues. Steph has talked with the Trust for Public Land, who suggested a memorandum of understanding with the land owners. That will be at the beginning of the current strategic plan. There’s a conservation easement handbook that Feico already has and they’ve used those techniques already for Bickham Dickson. We also want to replenish with human activity there with educational and recreational activities. Steph went over the other aspects of the trail. The plan also calls for a physical plan, a survey of the easement, and then a plan of the details of where the path will be, entrances, signage, etc.

Maurice and Wes discussed with the group the M.O.U., as suggested by the Trust for Public Land.

It was noted that the ultimate goal is for the trail to go all the way to Stoner, and perhaps with a trail going down to where the bike path crosses underneath the parkway by the apartments.

Marion mentioned that Charlie Coyle with Coyle Engineering might be good to do some of the work and he can get a quote from him. Other designers could participate to. It was also noted that the firm formally MHSM has already contributed a lot to the project.

Steph went over the history of the trail and and how incorporating some of the details of the past into the strategic plan will be done, e.g., the 14 tons of trash that have been taken out total over the past six years. We have a verbal M.O.U. via Mike Strong and Wes is now our city contact. We also have a partnership with the Red River Wildlife Refuge to build the outdoor classroom and clear out tallow trees, an invasive species. We’ve also made an institutional partner with the President of Centenary, our fourth institutional partner. With this strategic plan we can now apply for grants.

The future tasks we’ve identified are partnering with the National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). Mike Renfroe said he’ll contact them. The cemetery is being eroded with the stormwater runoff and NRCS might be able to help us. The state wildlife and fisheries will also be a contact and Mike will contact them too. Signage is another task; either with Bill Day or resources from Ed Leuck whom Loren talked to that day about costs (about $150 for about 100 signs)

Feico has talked to the Calhoun family who is paying taxes on the cemetery and would like to sell it. We need a legal entity that has legal standing. It was noted that the M.O.U. is a good half step because we get all the signatures on a single document. We’ll also be getting wood duck boxes, and Mike will get those; Maurice and Mike both knew of a man in Minden who builds them, Bob Kimble. Michael will also contact the wild turkey federation. Marion mentioned the Nature Conservancy as well. Feico has talked to them and they say one needs a war trust and a full time staff for contacts. Paul Dickson is a good person to work on this Marion noted.

A project manager to be the foreman and contact person on this is needed. Loren will try to find a Centenary College student for that role. Robert Trudeau and Marion’s wife have agreed to be the liaisons for Magnet High.

Mike mentioned that the State Historic Preservation Office could assist. Jeff Girrard has already had it designated as a state archaeological site, so it’s registered with the state. The Preservation Office may then feel obliged to help prevent the erosion from further damaging the cemetery.

Steph talked about the success metrics, including the water quality, the increased wildlife species, the increased human use, etc.

Feico said he’s always had the vision of Valencia Park being the base for the trail because of the parking there and the potential to have an interpretive center there. SPAR has talked about expanding their recreation center there. It would be natural to incorporate the visitors center in that.

Mike mentioned that those are huge figures of hours of time and tons of trash that we’d mentioned. The people looking at the grants are going to want to know the time and dates that its been done. Susan mentioned that she’d done work on it back beginning in 1986.

Mike said he probably wouldn’t have trouble making the lookout pier and that’s a considerable amount of money, so thinking about people who volunteer time to help build it would help. Where it will be built is not actually city property so we’ll have to have some insurance for it, though it probably wouldn’t be a problem getting money for the pier, if we have the insurance. It would be better to have an M.O.U. for it before we build it. Susan mentioned the State Trails Grant has been mentioned to her several time. Feico wondered how the Cypress Black Bayou Recreational Area was handled.

For fundraising, Marion said this project screams for a kickstarter project, an internet driven community fundraising approach. The band, “Dirtfoot,” for example, raised a lot of money for an album in a short period simply be using kickstarter.

Mike asked who would sign it for the city, and Wes said it would go to the City Council. How would liability be handled? There are strong immunity statutes in place, said Maurice, and if the land is for recreational use you’re immune from being sued. It has to be something that was constructed with willful negligence, like a trap, intentionally trying to hurt someone. Building a pier doesn’t constitute that. If Community Renewal lets us build a pier on their property going into the bayou, then we don’t need liability, because they already have insurance.

Maurice and Feico will try to go ahead and draft the M.O.U. Hopefully they can use something already in place like the Bickham Dickson agreement.

For the Calhoun heirs, it was noted that if they’re looking for a tax break then a conservation easement would be the best way to go.

Jon mentioned that we’ve had strong support from people that live along the bayou. But if we’re building a pier, we should have something in place that allows community participation in that decision and design. After we have something to show in the form of illustrations of the pier and amphitheater we can meet again.

No comments on the minutes from last meeting.

Monday, September 12th will be the next Coates Bluff meeting. We’ll have the MOU drafted for approval at this meeting. Can post it on our blog, people can review it, ideally we could meet with neighbors, and as soon as we’re the city can review it.

William complemented Steph on the blog revisions (and others concurred!)

The group adjourned at 7:28.

It looks like next week’s meeting will be focus on Dog Park Fundraising, fundraising in general, and transportation improvements.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Coates Bluff Presentation at Tonight's Meeting

Below is the proposal that will be presented by Stephanie, Jon, Maurice, and Loren at today's meeting:
Project Description
The Coates Bluff Nature Trail’s mission is aimed at full preservation of existing species, conservation through easement, and replenishment of nature and human recreation activity. This trail provides public access to a unique natural resource inside the city of Shreveport, Louisiana. As an undeveloped 1.5 mile stretch of land in a historic neighborhood, the area along the proposed Coates Bluff Nature Trail currently provides valuable habitat in the midst of an urban environment, and it includes a neglected waterway flowing into the Red River. This trail has potential to connect multiple educational institutions, historical sites, and environmental treasures. ABetterShreveport.org would like to pursue 1) a conservation easement, 2) a schematic design, 3) a land survey of the future walking path and bicycle path, and 4) a development design for the Coates Bluff Nature Trail.

Conservation Easement 
The conservation easement will bring together the property owners and a land and a strategy for long-term governance/maintenance of the surrounding land. The group will work with a land conservation nonprofit, such as The Trust for Public Land (TPL), to conserve the land for people to indefinitely use Coates Bluff as a nature walking trail, and bike path, while protecting the indigenous species that exist. The Trust for Public Land will provide help with structuring, negotiating, and completing land transactions that will forever protect Coates Bluff. TPL also provides expertise in tax benefits, appraisals, title issues, property surveys, and public agency procedures.

Schematic Design 
Work to date includes a conceptual map of the walking trail and multi-use path, and illustrates its relationship to the Red River Trail, the future Riverscape Mixed Use Development, the existing three schools, the Hopewell Cemetery, Centenary College, and the adjacent historic neighborhood, Stoner Hills. The Coates Bluff stakeholders have discussed in detail these elements in a series of three public meetings. Illustrations are still needed to help visualize the conceptual map on the ground, and arrive at a clearly defined, feasible concept.

Land Survey

Development Design 
The development design will develop more detailed drawings that will utilize the measurements from the survey to show the correct path length and width, materials, and path elements such as signage, etc.

Accomplishments To Date [in-kind ($20,000 (estimate))]
Fall 2005 – Jon Soul’s children began attending The Montessori School for Shreveport (MSS); Jon took notice of Anderson Bayou and lots of dumping.
Fall 2008 – Jon Soul began teaching in the MSS middle school; began exploring bayou & adjacent sewer easement/maintenance road with students.
Spring 2009 -- Organized a large community cleanup of the bayou.
Fall 2009 -- Started Outdoor Education Program at MSS; began using 1/2 mile "nature loop" with all ages at MSS.
Winter 2009 -- Met with Mike Strong to receive permission to continue using trail -- verbal permission and support granted.
Winter 2009 -- Established foot trail with ABetterShreveport (ABS) extending trail to Magnet High School.
Spring 2010 -- SPAR installed gate in southeast corner of Valencia Park for Magnet and Valencia Rec Center students.
Spring 2010 -- 2nd community cleanup of trail from MSS to Valencia Park.
Fall 2010 -- Invited the manager at the Red River National Wildlife Refuge to come give advice on invasive species control along the trail (specifically Chinese Tallow); he brought Mike Renfro, a private land biologist with the FWS; both were very impressed.
Spring 2011 -- Magnet students began using the trail with teacher Robert Trudeau; Valencia Rec Center began using trail during "Winter Camp."
Spring 2011 -- 3rd annual cleanup: "Hopewell Cemetery Cleanup & Watershed Protection."
Spring 2011 -- EB Williams Stoner Hill Elementary installed gate on fence line in order to access trail; 5th graders used trail for first time.
Spring 2011 -- ABS assumed role of strategic planner for Coates Bluff development; Centenary College hosted 1st Coates Bluff community meeting - David Rowe, Centenary's president presides; working groups formed (ex. education).
Summer 2011 -- 2nd & 3rd Coates Bluff community meeting(s): mapping and conceptual design alternatives for the trail to help stakeholders come to consensus on values, programming, and use of the space. Outlined a clear set of values, brainstormed programmatic needs, and built a volunteer base. Discussed activities, fundraising, and governance/maintenance options.
July 28, 2011 -- ABS met with FWS; FWS is ready to secure funding for the trail and provide guidance in best management practices.
Aug 15, 2011 -- 4th ABS Coates Bluff meeting: Present concept design and proposal to stakeholders for review.
Work Groups
1. Education and Curriculum Development. Jeanne, Robert, Deborah and Jon
2. Transportation Connectivity Loren, Maurice, Donna, Tim and Stephen
3. History Archeology− (Need to recruit working group leaders)
4. Nature−John Davenport, Jon Soul
5. Physical Planning/Governance/Maintenance −Mary Anne, Fieco, Stephanie, Caroline, Murray and Kim
6. Outreach/Marketing−Nadine, Kelly and Michael (Bring artists to interpretive event)
7. Funding-Marion Marks

Through a series of clean-ups and hikes, the community has discovered a neglected urban open space with great potential for supporting wildlife and providing outdoor education. However, these activities have also uncovered debris and erosion concerns where stormwater runoff is being channeled through the site toward the Red River. Trash dumping and neglect pose threats to this undeveloped space, and fragmented land ownership leaves the area vulnerable, as development closes in. Therefore, the objectives for the Coates Bluff Nature Trail are to increase community and educational access to nature, protect the land and its habitats from encroaching development, restructure stormwater management, and increase community understanding of the value of the property, in order to eliminate erosion, mitigate pollution, and prevent further dumping on the site.
Conservation goals for Coates Bluff Nature Trail include improved water quality, habitat protection, and habitat restoration. The site for the project is a bottomland hardwood swamp, and it is part of the proposed Red River Important Bird Area. Wildlife identified in the area include the Great Blue Heron, White Egret, Cormorant, Mallard, Wood Duck, Gadwall, Marbled Salamander, Fowler’s Toad, Pickerel Frog, Green Treefrog, Three-toed Box Turtle, Red-eared Slider, Green Anole, Five-lined Skink, Eastern Ribbon Snake, Western Cottonmouth, Red and Gray Fox, Armadillo, Northern Raccoon, Fox and Gray Squirrel, Striped Skunk, Nutria, American Beaver, Virginia Opossum, Swamp Rabbit, Mourning Dove, American Kestrel, Kingfisher, Red-Tailed Hawk, and Mississippi Kite.
This project will also yield new environmental curricula, developed by a collaborative partnership of institutions who would like to use the trail for outdoor education. Through the Coates Bluff Nature Trail, diverse groups of students and community members will have opportunities to connect to nature in new ways, and will work together to clean, cultivate, and enhance our local environment.

Future Tasks Identified
1. Partner with NRCS for watershed work for erosion control near Hopewell Cemetery. 2. Partner with State Wildlife and Fisheries in Minden for acquatic education and training. 3. Partner with Bill Bay and Boy Scouts for interpretive signage project. 4. Fund and Build Lookout Pier 5. Fund and Elevate Trail near Magnet 6. Install bluebird boxes (F&WS) 7. Have a conference call with TPL and Michael (F&WS) 8. Contact National Wild Turkey Federation 9. Contact Fish America Foundation 10. Find Project Manager from Centenary 11. Build 30-seat benches (F&WS) 12. Tallow Control (F&WS) 13. Stencil stormdrains through National Geographic Grant
14. Hold outdoor art exhibit in October on Trail

Success Metrics
Indicators of success for this planning effort include the following:
- clear consensus on the values, programming, and use of the proposed trail, as described in a conceptual design plan
- a total number of acres protected through the governance and maintenance strategy
- a reduced amount of trash collected during regular maintenance
- improved water quality evaluated through standard testing procedures
- increased number of wildlife species sighted
- increased student/public use of trail for educational purposes.

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!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Inexpensive Pedestrian/Bicycle Bridge, Newsletter, and Fundraising Training Discussed at Last Meeting

In attendance: Andrew Gaiennie, Kathy Gregorio, Cynthia Kieth, Maurice Loridans, Loren Demerath, Susan Keith, Feico Kempff, Carolyn Manning


Maurice said he'd been up sleepless nights thinking about the bridge, and what alternative we might have if they don't give it to us (and he noted they might not because of ship to shore utilities in the present bridge, which might make them say it's not worth the bother of moving them).

Andrew Gaiennie surveyed the area at issue at the base of Woodlawn St. Andrew displayed three dimensional representation of the space he had constructed. It was very impressive and we're glad to have a person of Andrew's skills working with us!

Maurice said all we really need is called a low water bridge. A low water bridge is one that's built to be flooded and only used when the water is low. It's likely much less costly than a regular bridge. When the water is low Maurice remarked that he can almost ride through it as is.

Taking advantage of the low water most of the time has also been the basis for Loren's idea of possibly making a trough down the middle of the current drainage ditches to catch the low water, then put a grate over it, and you've got a pedestrian-bicycle way. The idea is to do something very low cost.

We'd been told that the bridge needed to be above the flood plain, but Maurice pointed out the obstruction of a permanent pipe that runs across the ditch just next to the Alexander bridge, and others remember another by Querbes and Fern.

Maurice had been thinking about inexpensive bridge possibilities, and one is to use two telephone poles with decking across them and to secure it with with big iron stakes and loggers' chain.
It was asked if that should be “Plan B” if we don't get the donated bridge? Loren noted it might could be “Plan A” since this could be easily replicated in other places around the city.
It was noted that telephone poles aren't easily moved; we'd need someone with a backhoe or something like that. Another idea would be a bridge arched with all timber, but it'd probably more fragile and much more expensive.

On Hassett Ave. and Hardy St. is an existing pedestrian bridge over a ditch near Atkins Park a block south of Judson School, built by the city, apparently.

The group also discussed using box culverts as a means of rising over the water in places such as under the bridge going under Kings Highway.


The group discussed the newsletter and it was noted that Robert's phrasing in it of
No one in the city administration was capable of fast-tracking the dog park” didn't communicate the group's sentiment. We're going by the rules and we're very happy with the way things are going.

It also looks like Steph wrote it, when it was actually Robert, so we need to send out another one without the phrase, and noting the correction. Steph also noted that we should never use the words bureaucrats, politicians, or activists; instead government staffers, elected officials, advocates are more polite terms.


Next week we'll have a dog park meeting and train some of our fundraisers through role play how to sit down with someone and solicit a donation. Loren will play the role of the donor and already preparing for his role--he's got a theater background and is excited.


Steph, Loren, and Jon met with Mike Renfroe, who is a private wildlife management specialist for the Red River Wildlife Refuge. They discussed how the RRWR can help in improving the trail.
Feico sent a letter to one donor asking him/her to consider donating $5-10K for Coates Bluff.


Carolyn and Steph said we'd do the bike ride on Satuday the 13


Cynthia said she wanted to get a dragon boat for the group, and Carolyn was also enthusiastic. Maurice said the Ozark Society had one last year. It takes 21 paddlers plus a drummer. Steph said we could partner with TACA. It gives some mild publicity and would be fun and is a great way to use the Riverfront but Maurice, Robert, and Loren had their doubts (old codgers, not much fun, etc.). Maurice noted that it's a commitment and if your team doesn't materialize you're out the money.


Don't miss next week's meeting if you're up for a little role playing training for how to solicit donations for good community projects like a dog park!