- Elliott Stonecipher
- Elliott Stonecipher
February 25, 2016
Almost unbelievably, the Port of Caddo-Bossier plans to ask voters to re-up its 2.50-mill property tax – three years early – on April 9th. Approval would very likely kill any chance of completing the La. Hwy 3132 Extension in Southeast Shreveport.
On the Caddo side of Red River, the Port’s early re-up will be on the ballot with three property tax millages for the Caddo Parish School Board. Voters approved the property tax in 1993, with the money flow beginning in 1995. The term of the millage was to be 25 years, and Port officials say the last year of income will be 2019.
In a February 23, 2016, written response to my written questions on the subject, Port Executive Director Eric England confirmed that the Port wants the money now because it has decided to expand by another 3,000 acres. Those plans include two “megasites” of some 750 acres each, one of which is the land through which the 3132 Extension would be built.
In fact, that preliminary Extension route determination likely explains the timing of the Port’s decision to expand. The Stage One Feasibility Study for the 3132 Extension, which is now in its second year, very recently reduced from four down to two the likely Extension route options. Either of those route options, “B1” or “B2,” would dissect one “megasite” the Port now suddenly must – ? – purchase.
When I asked Mr. England about this threat to the 3132 Extension, he honestly responded: “We will all be competing for that land.” Perhaps so, but we certainly will not be competing fairly: the engineering firm conducting the 3132 Extension Stage One Study – Burk-Kleinpeter, Inc. – is also the Port’s engineering firm.[As many readers know, I have worked for almost five years – 100% pro bono – in the research and coordination of the Finish 3132 Coalition. To read documentation of the project’s history, go to Finish3132.com, then to “3132apedia” (here). Along with innumerable maps, charts, tables, diagrams, etc., etc., listed there are the ninety (90) in-depth articles I have written on the subject, the first of which was published on May 8, 2011.]
To begin to understand this mind-bending Port op, here are important keys:
… The final determination of the 3132 Extension Stage One Feasibility study will either be route options B1 or B2 or a “no build.” The “no build” is a project kill-switch and has been threatened throughout the work to save the highway, particularly so by the Northwest Louisiana Council of Governments (NLCOG).
… It was the April 7, 2011, NLCOG meeting at which that agency’s bossman, Kent Rogers, along with then-Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover and residential developer Tim Larkin, led the vote to kill the 3132 Extension, a project underway for decades. Such was necessary for Larkin to build his Esplanade subdivision between Railsback Road and Bayou Pierre in Southeast Shreveport.
… Extension routes B1 and B2 run through, and likely stop, Tim Larkin’s development. Also a very powerful Bossier politician and City Council member, Larkin’s closest political allies include Bossier City Attorney Jimmy Hall, one Bossier member of the Port’s Board of Directors.
… Another Port board member is attorney Sam Gregorio. At times an attorney for Larkin, Gregorio played a key role in the April 7, 2011, NLCOG action to kill the Extension, necessary for Larkin’s development. Gregorio has long been an ally, too, of ex-Mayor Glover who appointed Gregorio to the Port board just before that now-infamous NLCOG meeting. Property transfer records also then identified Gregorio as the owner of a $510,000 homebuilding lot in Larkin’s development.
… In a May 2011 Shreveport Times article, reporter Michelle Marcotte explained the plan of Bossier City officials to build their own port on Red River. As a part of that plan, Bossier officials took charge of efforts to build I-69 with a bridge across Red River at the location of the Port of Caddo-Bossier. Bossier City Mayor Lo Walker is not only the project’s number one pusher and spokesman, he is one of five members of the NLCOG Executive Committee.
… That I-69 segment, from I-49 at Stonewall over to and across the Red River, is now ready for land acquisition. Given that we already have five Red River bridges, no knowledgeable person believes any Louisiana “match” money is possible for decades. Regardless, Bossier officials will back no option which does not include that bridge to bring I-69 into South Bossier.
For more details of this earliest history concerning the Port and the Extension, here is my article of May 26, 2011.
… to be continued …
Finish 3132 Coalition