BOSSIER CITY, LA (KSLA) - More than a million dollars is at stake to fund improvements in South Bossier City and city leaders are planning ahead, hoping to get state money to pay for the upgrades.
If everything goes according to city leaders' plan, South Bossier will see new signs at the nearly 40-year-old Mike Woods Park and new lights on the southern portion of Barksdale Boulevard. Some residents said it is needed, but others say the price tag is way too high.
The Bossier City Council will vote to set aside $20,000 for the signs and $337,000 in hopes the state will approve their application and help pay for the other 75 percent of the projects.
"What the council will vote on next week will be a match of 25 percent of the total amount of the application of the total amount we have made to the state," said Bossier City Special Projects Coordinator Pam Glorioso.
Mike Woods Park was built in 1977 and some residents say it looks much like it did when it opened.
"It is kind of historic, it is kind of old, it could use improvements," said Luke Bertrand, who spent the afternoon playing tennis at the park with friends and fellow South Bossier residents, Kendle Shipp and Madi Newman.
Glorioso says after 38 years, the look of the park could finally change with the state's help.
"Senator Barrow Peacock was looking for projects in South Bossier that he could help sponsor and this was one of them. We knew they needed new signage, it was dated," she explained.
Glorioso assures KSLA News 12, the $60,000.00 wouldn't just pay for one sign.
"There is a new entrance sign, there is a new sign at the south end of the park, and also some new activity signs through the park," she said.
Still, some South Bossier residents like Jack Dysart, feel that is an enormous amount of money for something that isn't absolutely needed.
"It seems a little much for me to spend $20,000 and maybe up to $60,000 on tax payer dollars," he said.
But others, like Bertrand support the idea.
"I think they should upgrade them a little bit," said Bertrand.
Not far from the park, Glorioso said they are also looking to get state help to pay for more street lights on Barksdale Boulevard, much like phase one of the project that stretched from Barksdale's West Gate to Highway 511. Phase two will stretch from Highway 511 to Parkway High School.
City Council members will vote Tuesday, August 4 on whether to set the money aside for the projects. Currently, the projects are priority two with other capital outlay projects, which means the earliest the state could allocate the money would be in 2017.
In the meantime, while city leaders are planning ahead to fund those South Bossier projects, recently filed court documents reveal developer U.L. Coleman Company (ULCC) doesn't feel the city is doing enough planning to fund their redevelopment project to satisfy the requirements of the lawsuit settlement between the developer and the city.
ULCC sued the city 7-years-ago after being denied curb cut access to the Arthur Teague Parkway for their planned mixed use development.
The suit was settled in 2012. Currently, both parties are in the middle of fulfilling the lawsuit settlement.
As part of the settlement, Bossier City and ULCC are supposed to work together to redevelop a portion of South Bossier Parish near the planned Walker Place Development, by adding bike and pedestrian trails, street-scape upgrades, and other beautification efforts.
However, the developer claims the only future planning city leaders have done is within the next five years and claim:
"A plain reading of this (five year) chart reveals that the only commitment by the City of Bossier City for capital improvements is a monument at the entry of Mike Woods Park and some landscaping for the park amounting to a total of $245,000. The Mike Woods Park is located over a mile from Barksdale Boulevard," the court document filed by ULCC stated.
ULCC goes on to claim, "It is clear that the city is not contributing any funding for the redevelopment of Barksdale Boulevard itself."
ULCC alleges the city isn't upholding their end of the deal to redevelop the area near their development and they want the court to sanction city leaders.
"Functionally, there is zero commitment by the City of Bossier City to make the necessary capital improvements to truly foster economic development to the City as a whole and to all homes and businesses in the vicinity of Walker Place as intended by the Cooperative Endeavor Agreement," ULCC claims.
In the motion, ULCC also maintains Bossier City leaders are trying to undermine the lawsuit settlement with their implementation plan regarding the Barksdale Boulevard Redevelopment Plan and a pending resolution that would create a committee that ULCC claims would give them no representation.
As a result, ULCC is asking the court for the award of damages, attorneys' fees and costs caused by the city officials' violation of the Consent Decree.
Both the ULCC and Bossier City leaders have been told by a federal judge to not release statements to the media as they work through the settlement in court.