Is this Another Failed Promise from 2011 Bond Issue?
In considering the 3 bond proposals on the ballot in Shreveport next month, I have to look back and decide how we have handled previous bond issues.
In 2011, 3 bond proposals passed totaling $175 million dollars. Much of that work is complete but there are some projects yet to be done. One of them is Knight Street which was to be overlaid, sidewalks installed along with lighting. The only work done that I can see is some utility work. It's been 8 years. Residents in the area want to know why it's taking so long.
And now, I find on the City of Shreveport website information about a new fire station at the Fairgrounds that was included in the 2011 bond issue. It was to be a Super Station to replace stations 8 (Fairgrounds) and 14 (Greenwood Road). Here's the information pitched to voters in the spring of 2011:
Here's the budget that was included for the Super Station:
So I asked the question of Fire Chief Scott Wolverton about this proposed super station and what is the progress.
He tells me:
Legislation was passed by the City Council on September 24th for a property exchange for a new station 8. It will be built at the corner of Missouri and Greenwood Road next to Willis Knighton WorkKare. This is the final 2011 public safety project. Station 14 will be built with funding from the 2019 bond. We are in the final stages of purchasing property to relocate it. It will be built at Broadway and Greenwood Road.
I asked the Chief about the super station idea and he says:
That was an idea early on, but was never fully pursued. There was funding for 2 station relocations. Fire Station 17 (Baird Road) was completed. Station 8 (Fairgrounds) relocation will be the second relocated from the 2011 bond. We will be going out for bid on that soon.
We had a lively discussion about this on KEEL;
To be fair, nothing was actually on the ballot about a super station. Here is what was on the ballot for Proposition 2 in April of 2011:
Proposition 2 57%
"Shall the City of Shreveport, State of Louisiana (the "City"), incur debt and issue bonds, in one or more series, not exceeding the amount of Thirty-Eight Million Dollars ($38,000,000), for a term not exceeding twenty (20) years for the purpose of constructing, acquiring, and improving public facilities and equipment for parks and recreation, public buildings, the police department, fire department, and finance department and acquiring the necessary land or rights therein, equipment and furnishings."
So KEEL News asked former Mayor Glover what happened to the super station idea. He says land was acquired (donated) from Chesapeake at the site of the old hotel between the current station 14 and Midway School in case we did not go with the super station idea. We asked who killed the super station idea and he replied:
Jim Elrod did not like the idea of a Super Station. All of his reasons were specious and personal. Brian Crawford was the driving force behind the super station idea as we went through the 2011 process. It simply made too much sense.
We also asked former Mayor Ollie Tyler about the proposed super station and she told us she did not know anything about the idea. She did tell us there was some sort of problem with the land deal which delayed the process.
My issue in this whole mess is that when voters were approached about supporting the 2011 bond issue, we were sold a super station near the Fairgrounds. That never happened and is not going to happen. How do we know what we are being promised with the 2019 bond issue will actually happen?
I can only look back to a similar mess from the 1996 bond issue when voters were promised a park at Cross Bayou.