History of the Dog Park in Shreveport
The fight to bring a dog park to Shreveport has been going on for about more than ten years. But the fight is over. The park is now opens for pup.
Here's some information about the contentious history of bringing a dog park to town.
The Hamel family donated land on the riverfront to the city back in the 1980's, but the agreement required that the land be maintained as a park. In 2012, the Red River Waterway Commission approved funding of $289,000 to construct the complex at the Hamel Memorial Park in South Shreveport.
But Cedric Glover, who was Mayor at the time, said this was too much money to spend on a dog park and the city had many higher priorities on the riverfront. The City Council passed a resolution calling on the Mayor to accept the funding for the park from the RRWC, but the Mayor veto'd that resolution. The Council overrode the veto on a 7-0 vote. But Glover still would not sign off on the paperwork to accept the money.
This began a legal fight. The Shreveport Dog Park Alliance filed suit, compelling the Mayor to sign off on the funding as voted on by the council. The Mayor lost the legal fight, but local residents were forced to pick up thousands of dollars in legal fees. At the time, Shreveport Council Chairman Michael Corbin told KEEL News
If a group sues the Mayor, he as Mayor and his legal fees have to be paid for by the City. That is a burden to the taxpayers. It is unfortunate, but that’s how the system works.
The legal fight cost the city more than $40,000. Here are some of the items the Mayor included on his list of legal fees.
The two sides then began working on looking at possible alternative sites and it was determined the Stoner Boat launch park was a better alternative..
The Mayor and dog park project committee of the Shreveport City Council met and agreed on the Stoner site. This alternative was endorsed by dog park supporters and approved by the Mayor, City Council and Red River Waterway Commission and a subsequent Cooperative Endeavor Agreement became reality in late January 2014.
It established the off-leash area at Stoner Avenue, effected a repeal of the Hamel location legislation, and accepted funding from RRWC and SDPA, with spending limits in place. The compromise included "firing the lawyers", who took immediate action to dismiss the legal proceedings.
Glover finally agrees to move forward with the park. Here's the news release he sent out in January 2014.
While all this legal maneuvering was going on, the Shreveport Dog Park
Alliance members continued to fight for the pups, hosting several fundraisers around town. They held a “Pup Crawl”, a Dog Wash event and even a beer and wine tasting with a BITE.
Once the legal dust settled, the city moved to the design phase. But there were problems on that front too. Flooding during the summer of 2015 and the spring of 2016 forced several delays. In May of 2016 the bids came in for construction of the park. But the lowest bid was $635,000. SPAR leaders had to regroup and redesign the features and the size of the park.