by Elliott Stonecipher
Last Wednesday, Shreveport Times reporter Kristi Johnston expanded on the Finish 3132 Coalition report from the day before that The Glen Retirement System would not be joining Bossier City Councilman and Esplanade subdivision developer Tim Larkin in a Flournoy-Lucas entrance and exit for their respective properties. (SEE Kristi Johnston’s article here.)
The back-story is important in the Hwy. 3132 Extension saga. The long-discussed Glen / Larkin joint entrance and exit is one of the most controversial aspects of the supposed plan to spend a million taxpayer dollars to “study” and come up with a new corridor route for the 3132 Extension, a necessity given that the first one somehow managed to get the Twelve Oaks subdivision built atop it. To boot, the Larkin / Glen entrance and exit – pushed very, very hard, as I witnessed, by the Northwest Louisiana Council of Governments (NLCOG) and Louisiana Department of Transportation & Development (LA DOTD) – is also to be built with taxpayer funds. That’s quite another stunner given that it benefits a supposed $200,000,000 private, presumably highly profitable, residential development.
The Coalition’s research has found consistent mention of this joint entance and exit in various government documents as far back as 2007. Formal negotiations began in 2009, and the parties went their separate ways in early 2010. THAT “walking away” part is important: according to The Glen, Larkin surprisingly walked away after their offer to him was formally extended. When his interest in the joint entrance and exit was again argued, it was NLCOG and LA DOTD doing the arguing and negotiating for him … not Larkin himself. Two public agencies negotiating for a highly profitable private development is stinky enough, but the stink rose to a gag-inducing stench when the money behind the NLCOG / LA DOTD wheeling and dealing for Larkin was somehow set to come from the taxpayer till.
For her report, Kristi Johnston interviewed Larkin, who – contrary to The (non-profit) Glen’s assertion – said The Glen bailed:
“At the 11th hour, the deal we were going to do fell apart,” he said. “They changed their mind and decided not to sell it, which was a disappointment to us.”
It was no surprise to us that Larkin offered no proof since the Coalition’s research had found no evidence at all in support of that version of events. In fact, all evidence we had found suggested the opposite, but the resolution of the dispute requires private records from some source willing to offer it for public consideration.
In today’s Shreveport Times, The Glen provides that information from its “board and committee minutes and emails,” in which its original assertions are specifically memorialized. The details are provided in a guest column by Ms. Betty Henderson, the chairperson of The Glen Retirement System (SEE column here.) (The Coalition will later post on the Finish3132.com website any documents The Glen provides for public review.)
So, the public is left precisely where the Coalition has noted for weeks: when it was his money on the line to build the high-dollar joint entrance and exit, Tim Larkin walked away from negotiations with The Glen. When his private interests in this regard were again heard from by The Glen and the public, NLCOG and LA DOTD were negotiating for him, with public money to be used to pay the tab of what we are told would be an estimated two million dollars.
To advance their effort to “help” a private developer’s profitability, NLCOG and LA DOTD must convince a state district court judge to approve the taking of The Glen’s land through expropriation. It is likely an understatement to say that public opposition to any such effort will be organized and significant. We are told by attorneys very familiar with that process that the essence of the state’s case in such an attack on everything many of us hold dear in America is that such taking of private property is “in the public interest.” Nothing could be further from the truth in this instance.
If The Glen’s property is taken by NLCOG and LA DOTD, and paid for with taxpayer funds, only the interests of Tim Larkin, his partners and his bankers are served. All the interests of all other parties are attacked and defeated. The Finish 3132 Coalition believes it and others in the public who join it will be able to convince any state district court judge – elected by the public as each of them is – of that fact if expropriation is attempted.
Elliott Stonecipher, for the Finish 3132 Coalition
Elliott Stonecipher’s reports, essays and commentaries are written strictly in the public interest. No compensation of any kind has been solicited, offered or accepted for this work.