by Dan Keele
In May 2012, the Shreveport Dog Park Alliance and officials from Caddo Parish and the Shreveport City Council attended a meeting to attempt to work with Mayor Cedric B. Glover on realizing what Council action called for and Red River Waterway Commission (RRWC) through Caddo Parish made possible. Since that time, Mayor Glover exclusively, consistently and publicly claimed 2009 “Citizen-Driven Priorities” as his mantra against a dog park at Hamel’s.
Hours before the Court-imposed compliance deadline of 2:00 p.m., June 21, 2013, Mayor Glover trotted out a nonsensical comparison between a mythical Hamel’s Park proposal of his design and a low-budget makeover of two-and-a-half acre Princess Park. After a year of memorable phrases like “I refuse to live in a city with a World Class Dog Park and Third World Streets” , trying to kill the dog park project by poisoning public perception. At the last minute Glover delivered what was to be the coup de grace in a Power Point Presentation. In continuing defiance and simultaneous image control, the self-described non- “ogre and dog-hater” decried:
“I want a dog park but it’s not happening on the riverfront.”
Mayor Glover claimed in May 2012 that he was unaware of the RRWC application and grant, which used numbers from HIS RRWC application. “BS” was called on him in correspondence produced. Glover questioned the “process” as flawed when he didn’t get the money, in full, that he requested, which included improvements at Hamel’s. Last week on KSLA, Glover murmured more mayoral double-speak about property ownership and control, when since 1986, the City obligated itself to maintain Hamel’s Memorial Park in perpetuity, subject to allowing a dredge pipe to pump sand across the park and under the parkway. That has happened with little disruption to the sparse activity at the undeveloped park. The servitude of sand is not insurmountable.
Despite all the effort by Mayor Glover to portray himself as a fiscal conservative just this once, he has painted himself in a corner with varying shades of untruth. Truth has a way of working itself to the surface. The fact of the matter is Hamel’s Memorial Park Dog Park was the product of the Mayor’s own Shreveport Dog Park Advisory Committee. Glover and SPAR devised Hamel’s as a desirable replacement for the previous Veteran’s Park proposal. Mayor Glover was pro-Hamel’s before he challenged proponents to find funding outside the city coffers. People in government and grass roots citizens did exactly that, and all of a sudden, Cedric Glover was so opposed that he stated that he wouldn’t take the money from any source to improve Hamel’s Park with a fenced off-leash area, which had been established by the City Council and approved by SPAR.
Questions that require serious answers:
Why didn’t Mayor Glover veto Resolution 192 of 2011, which established the City’s first dog park?
Why did he speak so favorably of Hamel’s in discussion before the City Council voted to approve it?
Why did he insist on an expensive wrought iron fence and enlist support for the extra money it would require?
If it was a well-studied and supported plan THEN and it is not NOW, why is that?
From the public record of those proceedings:
CITY COUNCIL MEETING AGENDA
September 13, 2011
Inquires (318) 673-5262
Adding Items to the Agenda, Public Comments, Confirmations and Appointments.
A. Adding Items to the Agenda (regular meeting only) and public comments on motions to add items to the agenda. [ Act 131 of 2008])
1) A Resolution endorsing the development of a dog park at Marie and Charles Hamel Memorial Park and otherwise providing with respect thereto
VOTE PASSED 7-0
RESOLUTION NO. 192 of 2011
A RESOLUTION ENDORSING THE DEVELOPMENT OF A DOG PARK AT MARIE AND CHARLES HAMEL MEMORIAL PARK AND OTHERWISE PROVIDING WITH RESPECT THERETO
WHEREAS, the Shreveport Dog Park Advisory Committee, under authority vested in them in Article II, Chapter 62, Section 62-68, may recommend Dog Park Applications to the City Council of the City of Shreveport, Louisiana to provide for unified planning in the City of Shreveport; and
WHEREAS, the City Council and the Department of Public Assembly and Recreation of the City of Shreveport recognize a portion of residents need for places to recreate and exercise together off-leash with their dogs; and
WHEREAS, the success of Dog Parks will require partnerships with the community that enhance and protect the character of the neighborhood and accommodate changing needs; and
WHEREAS, the Shreveport Dog Park Advisory Committee was formed in order to address these issues and has recommended the passage and support of a Dog Park at Marie and Charles Hamel Memorial Park.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the City Council of the City of Shreveport in due, legal and regular session convened that it hereby accepts the recommendation of the Shreveport Dog Park Advisory Committee and endorses the development of a dog park at Marie and Charles Hamel Memorial Park.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that if any provision of this resolution or the application thereof is held invalid, such invalidity shall not affect other provisions, items or applications of this resolution which can be given effect without the invalid provisions, items or applications and to this end the provisions of this resolution are hereby declared severable.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that all resolutions or parts thereof in conflict herewith are hereby repealed.
Read by title and as read, motion by Councilman Everson, seconded by Councilman O. Jenkins to adopt.
Mayor Glover: Mr. Chairman, as part of the discussion, and I want to get this on the record, and Shelly is she still here? And I see Cynthia is here as well. I was accosted by some very good friends of mine who took me to task for one of the issues involving the dog park, and that has to do with the fact that as the process stands right now, there’s a requirement for Roth iron fencing. And the question was asked of me, Cedric, why would you require Roth iron fencing for a dog park?
And I said, well (inaudible) to the good folks who have been actively engaged in this process, because conceptually, I am in support, but I do know that we have at least two council members and staff folks who have been intimately involved. What I have been told Mr. Shyne, that part of the reason for that is, is that if we would consider other parcels of land outside of and I have to agree with, outside of the Parkway which is considered to be some of the most prime to and highly desired and highly coveted real estate in all of America, much less Shreveport.
Councilman O. Jenkins: This great city of the south, absolutely.
Mayor Glover: Best real estate in the next great city of the south, then just simply the idea of galvanized fencing even black mesh galvanized fencing would not necessarily be appropriate for our Clyde Fant Parkway. But before you all move forward with the vote, I wanted to at least introduce that issue as a part of the dialogue to say that discussion has been aired publicly, and to get some perspective both from my wonderful friend Ms. Keith, who has me out looking for English Masters over the last several months for those who aren’t quite aware, or maybe you were here at the meeting, I don’t know but anyway, I wanted to make sure that we had a chance to be able to have some brief discussion on that so that everybody would be on the same page.
Councilman Shyne: Wouldn’t that be expensive Mr. Mayor?
Mayor Glover: It would be expensive. It is more expensive.
Councilman Everson: This is a cost that is incurred by the private interest.
Councilman Shyne: I’m in favor of that. This is one time now that I’m in favor of the private sector.
Councilman O. Jenkins: But we appeal to a public and fiscal responsibility.
Councilman Shyne: Now that’s what I’m saying. I can go along with it. That’s one time I’m in favor of private responsibility by the private sector in order to handle that situation.
Councilman Everson: It’s not a public investment that’s required.
Councilman Shyne: That’s right.
Councilman O. Jenkins: So Mr. Mayor, were you adding that or requesting statements from those people?
Mayor Glover:I was just insuring that all of us involved from an administration standpoint, from a council perspective and all of us who are here who are wonderful parts of the dog community are on the same page in that regard. Because what I wouldn’t want to see is there be some legal controversy as well as (inaudible).
Councilman Shyne: And Mr. Mayor, I appreciate you doing that because some of my constituents from Mooretown might be driving down the parkway, on a nice cool Sunday evening and they see all this expensive Roth iron fence in there for these dogs, and I don’t want them calling me and saying, ‘Wow, y’all spent all that money on the Parkway for the dogs, and we need a little money spent out here in Mooretown’? So I can tell them that’s a part of the Republican philosophy of letting the private sector come in and spend some money for government.
Councilman Corbin: Or Mr. Shyne, you could just tell ‘em that that fence is there to keep people out, not dogs in.
Councilman Shyne: Well, I don’t know how good that’ll go over.
Motion approved by the following vote: Ayes: Councilmen McCulloch, Everson, O. Jenkins, Corbin, Webb, Shyne, and S. Jenkins. 7. Nays: None.
Mayor Glover: Mr. Chair, bottom line, I just wanted to clarify that from a policy standpoint. The expectation is that there is a higher level of construction for Clyde Fant Parkway property than there would be if we were going to one of our neighborhoods, some place that was not a part of the common – – –
Councilman Everson: And Mayor, your comments were reflected in the conversations that went on in the Dog Park Committee meetings where it was discussed about small term alternative locations you know and one of the reasons that this was so important to some of the Dog Park organizers this location was that this area along the riverfront is kinda of everyone’s area. It’s a part of the city that belongs to all of us, and so that is a symbolic gesture as a way to ensure the successful nature of the very first one of its kind that we have in this area, that this would be the most ideal location. So we worked with them going back and forth along a number of layouts, a number of locations along the parkway. It was a lengthy process with a lot of discussion, and yes at the end of the day, the kinda nicer fencing is to protect, what is very rare in an American city to have such a long stretch of greenway. So you know many cities were going in and trying to add green space that we have already, so we want to make sure that we respect that and that we plan accordingly around those.
Mayor Glover: Thank you Mr. Chairman, Councilman Everson, members of Council, just wanted to make sure we had that discussion for the record.
NO, THANK YOU, MR. MAYOR, FOR MAKING SURE EVERYONE KNOWS YOU WEREN’T ALWAYS AGAINST HAMEL’S DOG PARK LOCATION — AND THAT YOUR OPPOSITION AND SUDDEN THRIFT SHOULD BE VIEWED WITH GREAT SUSPICION.
The dog park at Hamel’s can and will be built, eventually, within already-available funding. Private donations will add enhancements, once one large obstacle – obstinacy – can be cleared. Anger, ego, vindictiveness and political power displays have no place here. Objections for whatever reason weren’t originally intended and aren’t really toward the dog park or the location, but the City and its image are a clear casualty. Any valid objections and concerns may all be addressed by working together with, rather than against, stakeholders. It’s time to show real leadership and personal integrity we once knew to unshackle the very capable public servants in Shreveport and follow the clear mandates of the governing authority.
Let’s load up a van and go see what can be done in similar topography and layout, with a road trip to West Monroe, see what they’ve done with a little-used area of Kiroli Park and meet with the energetic Parks Director, who has offered and already has shared his insight.
Daniel R. Keele
Attorney at Law
P O Box 303
Shreveport, LA 71162-0303
I represent the Shreveport Dog Park Alliance and its Executive Director, but the views contained herein are my own as a citizen of the City I love. All material herein is from the public record or public meetings.