SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - The Shreveport City Council has approved a new cooperative endeavor agreement that could finally bring the long, drawn-out dog park debate to an end.
The new agreement was passed with a unanimous vote on Tuesday afternoon between the city, the Red River Waterway Commission and the Dog Park Alliance.
The vote paves the way for construction to begin on a dog park at the Stoner Avenue recreation area. It still needs to be signed by Mayor Cedric Glover.
"It's a unanimous vote in our direction, and it is a great feeling and a great step for the city," says Cynthia Keith with the Dog Park Alliance.
Keith says she has been waiting for this day for 3 years."All we need is a signature and we can actually begin," says Keith.
It appears the mayor will sign the agreement, now that it includes the clearer language he requested ensuring that the citizens of Shreveport will not be responsible for any cost overruns once the park is built. There is no word on how soon construction would begin once the agreement is signed by the mayor.
"What this will do is, it will name Stoner as the site for the dog park," says Dist. D representative Michael Corbin. "It will define the funds that the Dog Park Alliance will contribute for the design and engineering of the project, as well as protect the citizens from any cost overrun."
It's been a long road that goes back to 2007, when the original petition to start a dog park was created. It took several years to wrangle the support and funding. That came from the Red River Waterway Commission in June of 2012, with the approval of $280,000 for the construction of the park.
But even after the city council approved an agreement to build it at the Marie and Charles Hamel Memorial Park, Mayor Glover refused to sign off on it, citing bigger priorities for the city. Glover also objected to the location and questioned the costs of construction and upkeep. That prompted a petition drive that gathered more than 1,500 signatures before it was closed.
The battle dragged on through the fall of 2012, with the city council overriding the mayor's veto of a resolution authorizing the agreement.
In March of 2013, the Dog Park Alliance followed through with a threat to sue, claiming the mayor was violating the city charter and his oath of office by not approving an agreement already signed by the Shreveport City Council and Red River Waterway Commission. A judge ruled in favor of the Dog Park Alliance in May, ordering Glover to allow the money approved by the RRWC to build the park by June 21. An appeal filed by the mayor extended the deadline for another month, but Glover continued to hold out.
Rallies and special meetings were held, public comments were heard and more appeals and legal motions were filed, until talk of a alternate locations for the park began to emerge late in the Fall of 2013. Glover asked the council to repeal the resolution ordering him to sign off on the funding for the park at Hamel, and the new agreement was drafted making Stoner Park the primary building location. Recent discussions have centered around the ongoing cost that would be associated with maintaining the park.