Future site of Shreveport dog park again is underwater

Future site of Shreveport dog park again is underwater
A panoramic view of the Red River at Stoner Boat launch.

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Red River is rising again.

"Anytime that something is built along the river, there's a potential that it could flood," said Mario Valverde, meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service office in Shreveport.

For the second time in 6 months, the future site of Shreveport's dog park is underwater. What does that mean for construction of the site?

This dog park has been in the works for 10 years and still is expected to open this summer, barring further flooding or inclement weather, backers say.

"Hopefully, this will be the last time. Like I said, this is not the norm, this is one of those things and we're prepared for it," said Cynthia Keith, director of Shreveport Dog Park Alliance.

For 10 years now, Keith has been waiting on the dog park she has worked so hard to build.

In October, plans were revealed.

"We're hoping to break ground we had said January," Keith said. "But with a winter build, you have to be careful anyway. You have to just know that things might happen to slow things down."

For the second time this year, the future site of the park is flooded.

"Anytime you build something in the flood plain like that, it's probably going to get wet sometime in the future," Valverde said.

Red River is expected to crest Saturday at 31.5 feet, which means more water will flow into the dog park site.

"If you're going to develop it for human use, a park is a good thing because you know, it does flood occasionally, and you just lose the use of it during that time," Valverde said.

"When we were making the plans for the dog park, the design plans, we actually prepared for these kind of things," Keith said. "Dog parks have to be waterproof anyway. And, you know, Mother Nature throws us some bad things, and we deal with it. And this dog park will be able to withstand water standing on it for a length of time."

Shreveport officials say that the flooding is not directly impacting construction of the park as the water levels stand right now and that the park still expected to open in summer 2016. City officials say everything is still unscheduled. They plan to open the work for bids in January, which could take anywhere from 2 weeks to 30 days.

Keith says she is ready for the park to open. "We've had gold shovels that have been on order for 10 years now, and we're ready to use them."

The National Weather Service says this year has seen an unusual amount of precipitation, about 60 inches, in the Shreveport area. Annual precipitation normally is about 50 inches.

And while hydrologists are constantly monitoring Red River, they say the historic flood this summer is an indication that the waterway again has changed.

"The river is always changing. That's one of the biggest challenges with forecasting the river," Valverde said. "Rivers silt in. Sometimes when you get a big flood like this, they will actually dig out that siltation and make the river deeper. So it's always a challenge."

The protective berm at the Stoner sewer lift station is being reinstated.

Three city parks have been closed because of the floodwaters: C. Bickham Dickson, Hamel and Riverview.

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