by Elliott Stonecipher
The Finish 3132 Coalition very much appreciates the many expressions of support for our work. In the three days since the Shreveport City Council meeting, the facts of what has happened are settling in. To say Shreveporters, at least those who are not in on any related deals, are unhappy would be a gross understatement.
This article will do our best to explain the likely results of the Tuesday action by Mayor Glover and City Council members Michael Corbin, Oliver Jenkins, Sam Jenkins, Jeff Everson and Rose McCulloch.
We urge everyone to consider all of this within the context of one overarching fact: one of the most damaging developments Tuesday was the stunning contention by Larkin and Glover that the developer has somehow divined the actual route of the Extension through his land. Put simply, that route is unknowable until the Stage 1 Feasibility Study is done. Glover and Larkin know that, their lawyers know that, NLCOG knows that, and the state and federal highway departments know that. The MPC rejected Larkin’s appeal on May 7th based largely on that fact, and it is a fact the MPC is responsible to weigh, as they did. Larkin’s success in gaining this approval to build on certain of his subdivision’s lots may have established, falsely, the legal basis for many more applications and lots/houses to come. The timing is no surprise: Glover will soon be gone.
We certainly must note, too, how the surprising assurances coming from some of the Council 5 sound precisely like their assurances after they recently overrode the MPC to allow apartments to be built in the path of I-49 in downtown Shreveport. It is all part of their “Don’t worry, be happy” cover story for so much they have done. We would do well to remember that just after Twelve Oaks was built in the Extension’s preferred corridor route in 2000, some of these same do-ers used precisely the same propaganda tool.
Larkin’s – not our – Extension route, drawn specially for him by our state highway department under pressure from Larkin’s political friends, will not happen without much of the north and western parts of Twelve Oaks mashed against the highway. The right-of-way for Larkin’s route is literally in some of those backyards.
With that in mind, here is where the Coalition believes Shreveporters stand in their hope for the 3132 Extension to the Port:
1. The broadly and falsely accepted Extension corridor is now called “Larkin’s route,” and that name is perfect: that bogus route saves Larkin’s investment, at our expense and loss. It was knowingly drawn to include “compound curves” which make it too dangerous to build, according to many who know. It was drawn to save his land, NOT to be a workable and viable route. It is most likely, in fact, a political stand-in before an official “No Build” decision is issued by the highway department when the feasibility study is complete. It is a political confection, and that “No Build” determination has been the whispered threat from Kent Rogers at NLCOG since the 2011 attempt to kill the highway.
2. One bit of new evidence may prove important. After the construction of Twelve Oaks hijacked the corridor the first time, Kent Rogers moved the route – with no public knowledge or participation – across Bayou Pierre. Now, a new document details how Rogers somehow decided to sit mute in the April 2011 NLCOG meeting, not mentioning that he saw that Larkin was using the 1992 route map to justify his and Glover’s plan to kill the Extension that day. Had the true route map been used – showing the “new” route going directly into and through Larkin’s land – none of this would likely have happened. For Rogers to come clean, though, would have exposed the facts of the post-1999 project history, something he cannot risk.
3. The only available route via undeveloped land is Larkin’s. Thus was set and determined by default, which is to say by all previous illegalities and failures and gross incompetence. All of us who really know the facts, and understand them, know that fact, especially. The people in Twelve Oaks – most of whom had no knowledge of the 1999 / 2000 version of this same horrible tale – cannot be logically expected to sit around and let themselves take the financial hit so Larkin can score mega-profits. That is particularly true given that federal NEPA laws guarantee disclosure of all such facts – facts which were specifically withheld from them – before the Stage 0 Study is legally valid.
4. The Coalition does not yet know what its additional legal options are, other than the immediate work we have already done to get to the bottom of what took place in the meeting in City Hall a few hours before the Council meeting. That related legal action via the Louisiana Public Records Act is inbound to Glover, and may well influence our next steps.
5. The MPC has legal options, too. We trust they will steer clear of any obstacles which a very few on their staff might attempt to throw up. (The vast majority of MPC employees are honest public servants, I well know, and are simply trying to do their jobs. Those staffers, and the “new” MPC Board led by Chairwoman Lea Desmarteau, we sincerely thank.)
6. Whether or not the Council’s action in support of Larkin rather than the public has in some way damaged the Coalition’s federal suit we cannot know. It is difficult for our attorneys to see how such local action can in any way obviate the flagrant NEPA violations already committed in this nasty history.
Amid the quick, loud and noxious revisionist history from some council members who did the Tuesday deed, we have not heard one who has mentioned how the Government Plaza chamber full of people walked out on these members in protest right after their vote. That crowd heard every word and saw every exhibit over nearly four hours. They understood completely, and were stunned, then left in bewilderment and disgust. No one can misrepresent or explain away what those witnesses saw and heard.
Without the immediate and open and strong involvement of other Shreveport organizations and businesses, history is well along in repeating itself. That history is clarion clear: from the Loop’s and Extension’s conception in 1956, all the way to 2000, this was a highway project which fed extraordinary economic development and enhanced public safety.
Then Twelve Oaks was built in 2000.
Then, yet worse, the current city hall administration came to be in 2006 … enter, simultaneously, Larkin’s “Esplanade.”
The Extension is certainly on life support, again. Those who can help save it have no more time to waste.
Finish 3132 Coalition
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 sharing – unedited only, please – of his work is requested and appreciated.
Forward-Now editorial note: The Bossier 1956 Master Plan even shows a “Loop extended from Shreveport around Bossier and BAFB.