SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover has been ordered to sign off on funding for a dog park in the city.
That's the ruling handed down by Judge Leon Emanuel Thursday morning in Caddo District Court.
"I hope this will bring all the parties together again and start a conversation with how do we move forward with a dog park," said City Council Member, Michael Corbin.
It's a victory for the Shreveport Dog Park Alliance, which filed the suit claiming Mayor Cedric Glover was violating the city charter and his oath of office by not approving funding for the $280,000 project already signed by the Shreveport City Council and the Red River Waterway Commission.
Mayor Glover, who was not present in the courtroom Thursday, has until June 21 to sign the agreement before he can be found in contempt.
City Attorney Terri Scott declined to comment on the ruling, saying "We are just the attorneys."
Dog Park Alliance Attorney Dan Keele says they are happy with the court's decision, and says the issue was never a personal one. Keele says the alliance is excited about working with the mayor on the project.
"We're very comfortable with the outcome of the case at this level, obviously the attorney for the mayor has indicated they intend to take it up to another court for review, whether they do that or not is up to them," said Keele.
The proposed park will be located at Hamel Memorial Park, off of Clyde Fant Parkway.
Officials said Wednesday that no matter what the judge ruled, it will be a long road ahead before the dog park is up and running. "There is construction that has to be planned, and bids that have to go out and things like that. So we are probably still looking at a number of months or even a year long process if we begin to move forward on this," says City Council Member Michael Corbin.
Corbin says some rules have already been discussed including what type of dogs are allowed and what owners will need to do before they bring their dogs to the park. He also says even though the park would most likely be maintained by Shreveport Public Assembly and Recreation, it's still up in the air on whether SPAR would handle all of the maintenance at the park.
Glover's office released a statement Thursday afternoon, pointing out that a dog park was not "tagged as the highest item" on a list of priorities compiled in 2009 by a citizen-driven coalition assembled to identify project needed along the riverfront.
The statement goes on to say that "the idea of a dog park is fine but these parks also come with problems and challenges,'' Mayor Glover said. "There is ongoing costs and maintenance to consider once it's built and there also will be operational issues to address; such as the fact that there is no one currently available on the city's staff to police and operate this park on a regular basis.''
Furthermore, Glover says Judge Emanuel's ruling effectively diminishes the checks and balances that exist between the city's Executive and Legislative branches.
"What the judge has done is essentially neuter the powers of the office of the Mayor,'' Mayor Glover said. "Going forward, all the council would need is five votes to basically set aside any action taken by the lone public official elected by a vote of the entire city, thus opening the door for special interest groups to place undue pressure on individual council members in order to facilitate efforts that may or may not have the best interest of the entire populace at heart.''
Mayor Glover has the option to appeal the judge's ruling, possibly taking the battle to the Louisiana Supreme Court.