Friday, November 23, 2012

Bicycle Transportation, Bike Cooperative, LSUS Institute, Greenway Proposals Among Topics Discussed at Last Meeting

Garrett Johnson, Maurice Loridans, Loren Demerath, Feico Kempff, and Cynthia Keith met on Monday the 12th and discussed a range of topics.  The meeting began with talk of Garrett’s honeymoon in Boston and New York, where he and his bride Susan Fontaine used trains to get around.  The inimitable appeal of train travel was noted.  

Garrett asked for an update on the bike racks that Liz Swaine had asked about.  Previously Liz asked us to specify where bike racks should go and Maurice then specified the sites.  It has been turned over to SRAC who have since made the call to artists for designing the bike racks.  It seemed like it was a done deal at the time.  It was noted they’ve done the other improvements along Edwards street from the Convention Center to Milam that were in the Downtown 2010 plan, though they haven’t installed the benches yet.  The plan was to beautify streets leading into the Convention Center; not along Caddo St., though, because that’s a state highway (Rt. 173), and so can’t be amended like city streets.

The bike coop team of Garrett Johnson, Maurice Loridans, and John Gilliland has had several meetings outside of ABS.  (By the way, illustrating the unanticipatable benefits of social networking and community organization, John has just given Garrett a used tandem bicycle.  Those in Garrett’s network bold enough to ask to borrow it, take note!)  A number of options have been discussed, including using a shipping container to store tools in one of the empty lots on Texas Avenue.  Such lots could also be used as a bike-corale for Maker’s Fair.  Other possible locations for the coop were discussed, including Centenary’s campus, and a preference for a building was noted.  Also noted was the possibility of giving clinics at the Renzi Center during their summer camp.

Garrett is now working full-time as the project coordinator at the Institute for Human Services and Public Policy at LSUS.  Garrett described the institute as basically a non-profit administration research center; lately it’s been working on the Choice Neighborhoods project with Chloe Haygood, mainly designing, administering, and processing surveys for it; it’s also been working on developing promotion exams for the State Police.  Stacey Martino is the Executive Director o of the institute, and Dr. Helen Wise (a sociology professor at LSUS) is the research coordinator.   The institute has a student association that is interested in volunteerism; they’ll be going to to the American Humanics Non-Profit Leadership Association in Atlanta to get certified.

The group discussed how the students could potentially partner with ABS on projects.  Possibilities noted were painting sharrows for recommended bike routes on streets, or rake-and-rides for creating mountain bike trails, or trail cutting itself.  A study of the campus area’s problems and possibilities for biking and walking is also a possibility.  Garrett noted the LSUS campus is very difficult--if not impossible--to access and negotiate by bicycle.  

As an aside, Garrett said he’s become too busy to attend ABS meetings.  The group noted it appreciates his contributions in whatever form he can give them, including now as a leader at the LSUS institute, helping ABS partner with it.  It was also noted ABS has the custom of allowing board members to bow out gracefully when that’s the case.

Garrett said he’d like to make something more permanent based on the success of the Makers Fair.  TACA uses it to promote the stuff it’s doing, like the historical research it’s done and the app it’s developed.  The group echoed the value of the Makers Fair to the city and praised April Dahm and David Nelson for all their work on it, as well as all the volunteers they’ve been able to organize.  There seemed to be over well over 3,000 people who attended it last week.

Feico mentioned the Municipal Auditorium will be closed for about the next nine months because of renovations from the bond issue.  

Cynthia also noted that the Barnwell Center will also be renovated, but the only way to save the greenhouse is to redo the roof, so it appears they’ll have to do away with the geodesic dome.  (Billy the Exterminater was called to come in and take out animals that gotten in.)  It will be open air though with the girders that you can hang stuff from; purple martins have been a problem but they’re going to be trying to deal with that.  

Loren described the recent visit of Dr. Bruce Sharky, LSU professor of landscape architecture, and his four graduate students, all of whom specialize in designing greenways.  Loren gave them a tour of the city’s various opportunities for greenways, and Feico and he then met with them to discuss certain sites over a google map projected in a classroom.  Dr. Sharky has invited Loren go to LSU Baton Rouge on Monday the 3rd to see the students present their projects.  

Maurice wondered if there might be a way we could use the proposals as a way of getting a bike route extended out to LSUS.  They could also be included in what Matthew Linn is planning.  His first ground breaking will be north of the city.  He wants to connect from Walter B. Jacobs to other parts of the rim that would encircle the city.  Maurice has been talking to Chris Petro of NLCOG, and has noted that LSUMC is going to be an important node within the network.  On the recent ABS bike ride from Rhino’s to the Makers Fair, we rode by LSUMC and noted all the bicycle locks on the racks there, evidencing the heavy weekday use. The hub of the bike route network, technically, would be the Shreveport Commons.  

Garrett noted that he was glad that Maurice was part of the SRAC Commons transportation planning committee.

Cynthia was on the news again about the dog park.  She met with Jeff Everson and proposed that the work needed for the smaller costs be begun, since we’ve raised a bunch of money already.  Benches, etc., could be started.  It was noted that Shreveport Green is a source for the trees.  In a sense we can build it from the inside out and do the fence last.  Feico mentioned that Shreveport Green got several grants recently.  We don’t want a lot of trees, though, in a dog park; clumps yes, but they can break their necks running into them as they watch for a ball or frisbee that’s been thrown.  Nonetheless, we don’t want to spend our money until we know there’s support from the Mayor’s office.  The first spending could be the design, but we wouldn’t want to spend the money on anything there unless we see the Mayor willing to have the dog park.

Feico and Maurice discussed the necessity of a conservation easement, Maurice questioning whether insurance liability issues make it untenable.  It was agreed that the more people use it the more developers would see it as an asset they can use.

The three Monday meetings following Thanksgiving will feature Urban Sociology student presentations of proposals for our city.  Please come and give your thoughts on the projects!
As usual, we’ll meet in the Wright Math Building, 6:00 to 7:00 p.m.

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