The overflow crowd in attendance at last night’s “Winning Tuesday” forum heard more than an hour of detail about the Hwy. 3132 extension controversy. The presentations by Jim Elrod of Willis-Knighton Health Systems and Bossier City Councilman and real estate developer Tim Larkin were excellent updates of where they now stand on the issue. Nevertheless, and with all due respect to him, Mr. Larkin painted a significantly different picture than that reflected in the public record. We are now left to somehow reconcile the two.
As the Shreveport Times report of the event underscores, a number of attendees spoke out last evening with admirable attempts to proclaim the positions of Jim Elrod and Tim Larkin to be “close.” Many of these, presumably new to the issue, wanted very much to hear little disagreement between those positions. More important than such understandable hopes and wishes are the facts. For those, we must go back to the point in time when the reality of the issue exploded into public view.
To quote Mr. Larkin from his comments last night,
” … we (Larkin Development Corporation) always planned for preservation of the 3132 corridor …”
” … Larkin Development Corporation is in support of the proposition.”
of the 3132 extension over or through Flournoy-Lucas and to the Port. Be that as it may, those remarks of July 12, 2011, must be compared to the public record – the official minutes – of the April 7, 2011 North Louisiana Council of Governments (NLCOG) meeting.
In a previous report to you on this subject, I linked readers to the official minutes of that meeting, the ground zero of this matter (here is that official record). The content of Mr. Larkin’s presentation that day is shown beginning at the bottom of Page 6, continuing on Page 7. In the first two paragraphs on Page 7, Mr. Larkin’s position on the Hwy. 3132 extension corridor from the present terminus at Flournoy-Lucas Road to the south is very clear, including such remarks which we recorded as,
… “Mr. Larkin then began a discussion over other potential alignments and/or ways to connect the port facility and I-69. These options included using Flournoy-Lucas and La 1 since Flournoy-Lucas is nearing completion of the expansion to 5 lanes and La 1 is 4 lanes with median from that point south to the port facility.
… “Mr. Larkin noted that a traffic study he had completed showed that Flournoy-Lucas and La 1 should be able to handle any future traffic for many years.”
… “Mr. Larkin continued to emphasize the need to remove the alignment shown (i.e., the alignment crossing Flournoy-Lucas and heading south to the Port) due to impacts on the surrounding properties.”
While, as we are told, Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover is not a usual attendee of NLCOG meetings, he was present on April 7, and followed Mr. Larkin’s presentation with a strong argument to kill the Hwy. 3132 extension to the Port. The record certainly reflects that fact – unambiguously – in the language of Glover’s first-of-four offered motions:
“I, Cedric Glover, Mayor of Shreveport move that:
1. The MPO (i.e., “metropolitan planning organization,” not to be consfused with the Metropolitan Planning Commission) rescind the approved corridor alignment for the southerly extension of the Inner Loop (La 3132) from Flournoy-Lucas Rd. (La 523) to La Hwy 1.
WHY ALL OF THIS IS SO IMPORTANT
As those in attendance last night heard me remark, Tim Larkin maintains that his presentation at the April 7 meeting of NLCOG was misinterpreted and/or improperly recorded for the official record. I acknowledge that such is possible, and that Tim believes what he says. It is a troubling fact, nonetheless, that correction of the record was never made, especially given that the official minutes were not adopted for several weeks.
We are now to believe that the critical matter of Tim Larkin’s plan for his Esplanade development is settled, and he “supports” the southerly extension which was specifically targeted for extinction as recently as three months ago. Be that as it may, Mr. Larkin was only one member of the tag-team at NLCOG on April 7 which had seemingly – and intentionally – wrestled our community’s best interest away from us. There may well have been yet unidentified others on that team – area residents and landowners, and investors in Larkin’s development, as examples – but its most important player, Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover, remains in opposition to the southerly extension of 3132 to the Port. To underscore and prove the Mayor’s position, we need only consider that he is the author and protagonist for the most absurd alternate route, the one which would abandon the 3132 leg from Bert Kouns to Flournoy-Lucas – a nearly $30,000,000 public investment.
Until Mayor Glover provably abandons his opposition to the 3132 extension corridor from Flournoy-Lucas, directly south to the Port, anything is possible, most specifically the “no build” option included in the upcoming near-$1,000,000 first-phase corridor assessment.
At an obscure meeting on April 7 in downtown Shreveport’s American Tower, at a meeting held by a likewise obscure public agency called NLCOG, the public interest bomb that exploded should have destroyed any doubt that anything can happen at the hands of those in local government.
I thank you for your consideration, and ask that you forward this piece as you choose, but in an unedited form.
Evets Management Services, Inc.
6658 Youree Drive
Suite 180, #367
Shreveport, LA 71105