bu Elliott Stonecipher
It seems the assault on the Rule of Law by top Shreveport officials continues to spread. Tim Larkin, Bossier councilman and developer of southeast Shreveport’s would-be Esplanade subdivision, tells some that he has all necessary approvals to proceed with his exclusive enclave. Since no public meeting of any kind, by any governmental body, has been held to grant such approvals, and since Larkin’s development is dead in the path of a preferred route for the Hwy. 3132 Extension to the Port of Caddo-Bossier, how can such be legal?
On the opening page of the Finish3132 Coalition’s website – www.finish3132.com – entitled “August 2013 Updated Imagery: Esplanade Aerial View,” is a photograph taken a few weeks ago of the development and surrounding area. Outlined in red is the 16+ acre tract owned by Shreveport taxpayers, outlined in yellow is Larkin’s land, and the double, bolded purple lines are Hwy. 3132. The diamond interchange with Hwy. 3132 and Flournoy-Lucas Road (LA Hwy. 523) is shown at the top of the image, with the proposed southerly Extension of 3132, proceeding across Bayou Pierre, shown as it swings toward the Port. Clearly, the Hwy. 3132 Extension would run through a sizable portion of Larkin’s development. Regardless, construction of the development is clearly visible.
(Also, by clicking on “3132apedia by Elliott Stonecipher,” a history of the two-year effort by the Coalition is available.)
To summarize, on April 7, 2011, Glover commandeered a meeting of the Northwest Louisiana Council of Governments (NLCOG) for the specific purpose of killing the Hwy. 3132 Extension to the Port, an act serving only Larkin and his development. Earlier that morning, one of Glover’s lawyers – who was also his campaign treasurer, and one of his appointees to the Port Board, and a sometimes Larkin attorney – hammered out the language of the necessary NLCOG Motion. As Glover and Larkin did the deed, those in the room who were there to protect the public interest remained silent, as arranged in advance. Only one voting member – a Louisiana Department of Transportation & Development (LA DOTD) official – served and protected the public by voting “no.”
In fact, Glover’s action shattered a specific promise he and other city officials made to Shreveporters in 1996. A City Council member from 1990 to 1996, Glover and other city officials debated and planned for the Extension’s completion, work which culminated in a bond proposition for that purpose. That bond issue’s Proposition #4 was voted on April 20, 1996, and voters, by a 64% to 36% margin, put up our initial $3,500,000 to complete the 3132 Extension – “… to the Port …” not just to Flournoy-Lucas Road.
Last year, our Metropolitan Planning Commission (MPC) board members voted twice, unanimously each time, to block Larkin’s building of a roadway from Flournoy-Lucas to Bayou Pierre. Likewise, in two separate votes, the Shreveport City Council refused to approve permits for that roadway because it is in the path of the 3132 Extension. Regardless, one day following the fourth and final such vote taken over several months, Glover ordered his city attorney and his city engineer to issue the permit to Larkin. Given Glover’s creation of the appearance of legal permits, courts did not issue injunctions to prevent the roadway, referring all such questions to trials and/or other litigation “on the merits” of the overall case. In May 2013, the Coalition filed a resulting new federal court suit, available for reading on its website. (Click on “Federal Court Lawsuit Filed May 2013,” summary on Pages 7-17, entitled “Relevant Facts.”)
Here are other points of importance:
— LA DOTD’s consulting engineers as well as its own project engineer, recommended this route for the Extension. The consultants, as a part of the highway’s “Stage 0 Feasibility Study,” drew this route and recommended it to the project engineer, who, in turn, recommended it to her superior, LA DOTD’s Deputy Secretary Eric Kalivoda. As the engineer explained in one of her emails to Kalivoda, “… I think it is the best option because it will avoid impacts to Twelve Oaks.”
— Kalivoda ignored these top designers and directed that this route option be modified several times. Each redraw minimized the use of Larkin’s property, pushing the Extension closer and closer to the adjacent Twelve Oaks subdivision (shown just to the right of Larkin’s land.)
— When, as federal law directs, the 3132 Extension routes were presented by NLCOG to the public in a federally required public hearing on August 2, 2012, this route option was deliberately and knowingly hidden / withheld. Likewise, written public comments from the first such hearing on January 24, 2012, were conveniently “lost” by NLCOG, creating an appearance that no public opposition had been expressed.
— NLCOG’s top dogs, it must be noted, are those who ten years earlier redrew and redirected the Extension’s route into what is now Larkin’s land. That 2003-2004 route by NLCOG very closely matches the route shown here. That was, however, before Larkin and his project came to Shreveport in 2006, attached to Glover’s mayoralty.
Though a dozen or so public officials aggressively support Cedric Glover and Tim Larkin, tens-of-thousands citizens do not, for many and obvious reasons. For those who must drive Flournoy-Lucas Road between Hwy. 3132 and Hwy. 1, serious risk to life and limb has become the norm. The traffic and high speed of 18-wheelers and other vehicles there is extraordinarily dangerous to untold numbers of drivers each day. In response, state officials have acted only once … by raising the speed limit.
For the Coalition and honest citizenry, the work continues to put our case before legal authorities who care more about the Rule of Law – and those lives and limbs – than profiteers and public officials devoted to serving them.
By the way, given the unimpeachable evidence of bad faith on the part of public officials in this matter, why would Shreveporters ever again believe the ballot language for any bond issue proposition?
Elliott Stonecipher’s reports and commentaries are written strictly in the public interest, with no compensation of any kind solicited or accepted. Appropriate credit to Mr. Stonecipher in the unedited sharing of his work is requested and appreciated.