There’s an old maxim that what the government giveth, it can also taketh away. Usually this applies to the same government entity, –like the IRS granting a refund by mistake and then dunning the tax payer to return the funds months after the refund check has been spent. Shreveport dog park supporters are now faced with a different twist: Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover is threatening to hold up a $280,000.00 funding grant to the Shreveport Dog Park Alliance from the Red River Waterway Commission.
The Big G is upset because the Commission has not yet acted on a $1.4 million funding grant by the City of Shreveport for various safety and improvement projects along the river. This included funding for restrooms, special event rooms and a stage pavilion structure for River View Park ($925,000.00). For Stoner Woods Boat Launch, $335,000.00 was sought for a group picnic/event pavilion, a river overlook and fishing area and an information kiosk. The City also wanted $775,000.00 for a picnic area, additional parking, a playground, restroom and earthen fort path for the Marie and Charles Hamel Memorial Park.
In his letter to the Commission’s Executive Director, Glover complained that “the Commission’s decision to fund the dog park is understandingably of great concern to me, particularly considering the decision was made without discussion, conversation, or express agreement of the City of Shreveport.” Glover’s letter advised that his requested items were “consistent with the Recreation Projects contained in the Shreveport/Caddo 2030 Master Plan.” He surmised that the Commission’s decision to fund the dog park, before considering the City’s funding request, was “both disappointing and baffling.”
The funding for the dog park, a project that has been pushed by the Shreveport Dog Park Alliance for almost five years, provides moneys for wrought iron fencing, water lines and fountains, benches, a pavilion, sewage, water station and trash receptacles. The $35,000.00 raised by the Alliance will fund incidentals for the project.
“We’re excited,” Caddo Commissioner Matthew Linn said of the dog park funding. “We asked the (waterway) commission to take money that Caddo Parish taxpayers pay and designate it for a dog park to give as our gift to the City of Shreveport. The Commission does not have land contiguous to the Red River for the park, and this ties into our mission statement of dog care and providing animal services for the parish, which includes the City of Shreveport.”
The Waterway Commission’s approval came as a result of a presentation by Linn and Shreveport Councilman Oliver Jenkins that included preliminary plans for the park as well as letters of support from state legislators and the alliance, Guidry said. Previously, the City Council and Caddo Commission unanimously approved resolutions supporting the dog park. The City Council voted late last year to designate part of Hamel Memorial Park on Clyde Fant Memorial Parkway for the dog park. Earlier in 2011, council members approved amendments to the city’s leash law to allow dogs to be off leash in the park.
The next step in the funding process is for the Commission to forward a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement to Mayor Glover for Council approval. After an affirmation council vote, Glover can approve or veto the project. The Council can override a veto by a 5-2 vote.
Hopefully, Mayor Glover will stop his mantra that this project puts dog concerns over people. Seemingly, the Mayor has overlooked two salient facts: dogs at the dog park will be owned by private taxpaying citizens, and that residents living inside and outside the city limits of Shreveport will be funding the dog park by their ad valorem taxes.
The leaders supporting this effort including Councilman Jeff Everson and Commissioner Matthew Linn are emphasizing that the dog park is an amenity requested by taxpayers and that it should be considered as such, –and not as a potential football to be tossed back and forth. The supporters of the dog park cite it as a citizen friendly amenity, just like a fishing pier or a covered pavilion, –a quality of life component. The Alliance hopes for a friendly resolution of this dust up, –but they are not willing to walk away from this project without a big stink.
And that is what politicial observers expect if Glover persists in his efforts to torpedo the park –a big, big stink like fresh dog poop walked on with bare feet. At a time when Glover’s stand on the 3132 extension has outraged many citizens and others are highly concerned about neighborhood violence; the Big G could certainly use a warm and cuddly photo op. What would be better than Glover on his office couch surrounded by cute puppy dogs with a big smile on his face?