BOSSIER CITY, LA (KSLA) - Bossier City leaders are inviting the South Bossier community to take part in an effort to help shape what the area will look like years down the road.
Leaders and planning consultants held their first public meeting Monday about transforming a 10-street block area from the Shreveport-Barksdale bridge to just past the Century Link Center.
"Without your input, we don't know what you want for us to improve your neighborhood," said Donna Grimaldi, president of the South Bossier Citizens Assembly. "No idea is too outrageous, so an idea you keep to yourself is not going to be helpful to anyone. This is a wonderful opportunity for you to let your voice be heard."
"We've seen a lot in the last 20 years that we've been here, already change," said John and Janice Grygorcewicz, who were some of the concerned neighbors who packed a room at Century Link Center to hear from SWA, a national planning firm hired to transform the community.
"We came here to see what they are actually planning and hopefully get some insight to what the future holds in store," he said.
A multi-million dollar lawsuit settlement with developer U. L. Coleman in 2012 requires a redevelopment study for South Bossier City. Coleman sued in 2006 after being denied a curb cut to the Arthur Teague Parkway for its "Walker Place Development," which the developer said is moving forward.
As part of the settlement, the city agreed to pay for public improvements as well as $6.7 million worth of damages and costs to the developer. Also, the city will build a $1 million city park near the Century Link Center with a $3 million foot bridge over the parkway. The city has to turn dirt on that project by late summer or face penalties.
Bossier City is also responsible for reimbursing Coleman for $10.4 million-worth of infrastructure needed around the mixed use development.
"But it [the development] can't be an island to itself, it has to tie into something else," said planning consultant Todd Meyer.
The consultants proposed different ideas like turning South Bossier into a more walkable community, transforming Barksdale Boulevard into a "main street" with mixed use development, and several beautification projects.
Planners predict the study will be completed by the end of this summer, but emphasized any large changes will likely not be seen for decades.
Once the study is finished, a final draft will be presented to the public. Then it will be sent to the city council to be voted on. The cost of the study is $50 thousand, the developer is picking up the cost.