- Elliott Stonecipher
- Site rendering of one iteration of the Cross Bayou proposals from the past
Wednesday, May 29, 2019 … 2:28 P.M.
Life after death … after death … after death …
It was decades ago when I first heard some phonily glowing description attached to Cross Bayou “development.” Mercifully, each such episode was somehow beaten back.
No matter how impossible, however, the thing was and remains our very own haint.
On September 12, 2017, the Shreveport City Council voted unanimously to stomp-out a “sports complex” version of development on the Red River / Cross Bayou.
A mere five months later, the current iteration from and by Gateway Development Consortium – “GDC” – came along, yet another $1 billion version of the curse.
Then, on May 22, 2018, a four-vote Shreveport City Council majority approved a Memorandum of Understanding – “MOU” – for the GDC nightmare. (SEE Link #1, below this article.)
Now, in a twist, Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins is withholding any commitment to the GDC concoction. So, ex-attorney Larry English has taken point to move the thing to the Caddo Parish Commission for necessary approval … and a pile of taxpayer money.
This time, the Commission is asked to approve a Letter of Intent to do the deal … an “LOI.”
(It context, it is certainly instructive to see and hear the Larry English presentation to the Commission. SEE Link #2 below this article, beginning at the 8-minute mark.)
Perhaps as a taste of what is yet to come, a group called Costar Market Insights circulated this high-dollar ad about the project on April 19th …
If the Commission finally approves the thing, it will hand over tens-of-millions of our taxpayer dollars to GDC players. English specifically says nearly $47,000,000 in “public investment” is needed.
Such an amount would require Commission reserve funds, meaning a “yes” vote of at least 8-of-12 members. Scarily, several Commissioners who might well vote “no” are either term-limited in this fall’s elections, or will otherwise not return.
In any case, and to grossly understate, Cross Bayou development is not affordably doable.
A system of railroad lines within this area is immovable. Sizable portions of the subject land are contaminated by decades of systematic toxic waste dumping. Red River, we now understand, will routinely flood this very area … perhaps from now on.
Besides, our city and parish face challenges which are simply far too serious and immediate to waste huge and evaporating amounts of public money on any such proposal.
How, then, is this even up for debate, again?
Because the profiteering – the taxpayer money to be “had” – exists only on the front-end … well before (known) project impossibility is declared.
* * * * * *
Ten days after Mr. English’s presentation to the Caddo Commission, the proposal was taken up by its Economic Development Committee, then passed to a new Cross Bayou Development subcommittee.
Chairing the Economic Development Committee that day was District 6 Commissioner Lynn Cawthorne, now awaiting federal trial for theft of $538,000 from (children’s) Summer Feeding Service Program. Last month, U.S. Attorney David Joseph added eighteen counts of money laundering.
More than merely notable, Commissioner Cawthorne, while a member of five other Commission committees, is not a member of the Economic Development Committee (much less Chairman).
According to official meeting Minutes, Cawthorne both seconded the Motion to send the GDC pitch to the new subcommittee, and voted in favor of it.
© 2019 Elliott Stonecipher … ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
1. Elliott Stonecipher, May 22, 2018:
2. Caddo Parish Commission meeting, March 21, 2019, begin at 8-minute mark: