by Elliott Stonecipher
We at the Finish 3132 Coalition recommend to all who care the article in today’s Shreveport Times by Alexandria Burris. It is an important read, we think.
After a night’s sleep, albeit it not what anyone would call a good one, Ms. Burris’ article is difficult for me to read, just as my article written last night was dreadful to write. As Councilman Joe Shyne is quoted in today’s article, “I was appalled. I never dreamed that (Shreveport) city government would come down to this.” Neither did I, and I have been involved in it for over thirty-five years.
All the City Council needed to do yesterday was uphold the subject May 7th ruling of our Metropolitan Planning Commission (MPC). Esplanade developer Tim Larkin has hectored that group three times in the past couple of years to get what he wants – at the cost of our city, not his Bossier City – and was turned away for very, very good reasons all three times. Shreveport city hall and the Caddo Commission put the members on that board, but none of them will let the MPC board do its job. While it is certainly true that the MPC is complicit in much of what has gone wrong over the Extension’s nearly 60-year history, such is not the case with this MPC board. (No one who knows the facts denies that the Board has cleaning up to do with its staff in that context.)
One irrefutable fact from yesterday’s City Council meeting is that Larkin’s five Council votes – Michael Corbin, Oliver Jenkins, Sam Jenkins, Rose McColluch and Jeff Everson – flipped-off much of the city’s new and old leadership, right then and there. Those leaders stood and spoke in favor of the Council’s support of the MPC decision, and/or the protection of the 3132 Extension. Even after doing so, the Council cabal made it clear with their votes that the opinions and respectful pleas of those leaders were not as moving as the woes of a developer who rolled the dice (that is what they do, after all), betting it all on his political stroke with our mayor.
No one I have spoken with or otherwise heard from has ever seen anything like this in Shreveport. Now, we wait to see how the leadership, new and old, responds to such a level of disrespect from a strong majority of the City Council and our mayor.
Corbin’s attempt to explain why he led the Council to the side of Larkin and the intended end of the Extension is, well, I would say unbelievable, but nothing here is anymore:
“I’m not willing to put the citizens of Shreveport on the line for a $10 million lawsuit that we’re going to have to pay if we don’t come up with an amended motion.”
OK, let me get this straight. A threat which is made by Larkin and all his attorneys every time it crosses their minds scared Corbin into voting for the highway-killer’s position over the MPC? If that were Corbin’s real reason he might want to explain how such a (bogus) $10,000,000 cost to taxpayers compares to the hundreds of millions it will cost us in lost economic development if the 3132 Extension is killed. And, oh by the way, how many times a month or week is the City of Shreveport – and its Council and Corbin – sued? Why did this one scare Corbin into submission to Larkin and Glover?
Oh, and by the way, again, has anyone noticed that Larkin never volunteers and is never asked, including by his friend the mayor and his friends on the Council, what his idea is to save the Extension? Reckon that’s because he knows his development kills it and it kills his development? Glover’s deal with Larkin going back years was a dead 3132 Extension. It took the Council 5 to lock that in.
The Finish 3132 Coalition has shouldered the work and costs and negatives of this issue for more than three years. Now, the community’s leadership has its wake-up call. Without the Extension, deaths resulting from 18-wheeler and other traffic on Flournoy-Lucas will grow over time. Likewise, without the Extension, the economic hit to the Port – and the city and parish – will be epic. These are facts, and they are inarguable. Larkinites clearly don’t care. What remains to be seen is who really does.
Read This If You Care About Saving the 3132 Extension to the Port
As I have learned and explained over the past three years, we cannot have both Larkin’s subdivision and the 3132 Extension. When Twelve Oaks was built atop the preferred route for the Extension in 2000, there was only one route left for it, and it is through the until-now undeveloped land Larkin owns. All other arguments and claims and what-ifs are just chin music. Tim Larkin knows this, and I would bet serious money that he now giggles about it every time he comes and goes over the Red River to and from his Bossier home.
That really sucks, but the wind in Larkin’s sails always comes from this side of the River … especially from our elected officials.
Finish 3132 Coalition
[CORRECTION: In last night’s article, I listed “Gif Gillen” as one who attended yesterday’s City Council meeting, speaking for completion of the 3132 Extension. Mr. Gillen was not in attendance, to my knowledge. Long-time Coalition member Gil Pittard, however, was, and did speak on behalf of the roadway’s completion. Mr. Pittard has been one of the Coalition’s most steadfast members, for which we thank him most sincerely. The error is mine, alone, for which I apologize.]