The Tyler administration is in a full court press mode to pressure the Shreveport City Council to vote on September 12 to allow Mayor Tyler to proceed with the hiring of professionals for $30 million bond issue for “acquiring, constructing, and equipping of a sports complex in the City.” Negotiations have already commenced for the purchase of the needed properties for the proposed $130 million Cross Bayou project that will include the sports complex and the mixed-used development project.
The public is entitled to answers to many questions that are important to consideration of the entire project, and especially the upcoming Council vote. How forthcoming the Tyler PR team will be is open question; to date the public presentations, media releases and press packages are long on glory but short on details. Here is a list of inquiries that have not been addressed to date:
1. Is the award of the Pelican team to Shreveport contingent upon the construction of the mixed-use private development (“private development”) or just the sports complex (“complex”)?
2. Is the complex to be built if the private development is not to be built? In other words, is the economic feasibility of the complex dependent on the private development? If so, what guarantees will the City have in hand on the private development before construction of the complex begins?
3. The sports complex and private development are to be located in an EPA identified brownfield area. Does the City have the funds for the cleanup of both areas, or for just complex area? If just for the complex, will the private development company do the clean up on the land for the private development?
4. Cross Bayou has flooded several times since 2015 and Sheriff Prator has stated that the Red River will again flood, which will cause more flooding of Cross Bayou. What impact will future Cross Bayou flooding have on the sports complex and the private development?
5. Since the City does not own all of the property needed for the complex/private development, what is the source of funds to purchase the needed property(ies)?
6. Cross Bayou is a navigable stream. Will it be necessary to get EPA approval for any of the sports complex construction and/or the private development on the bayou? If so, are these costs be included in the initial projects of expenses for both the complex and the private development?
7. What amount of bond funds are unspent from the 1996 bond issue for riverfront development and will these moneys be spent for the sports complex and/or the mixed-use development? 8. Will the main entrance to the complex be from McNeil Street and/or from Common Street? What will be the costs for the necessary streets, drainage, lighting, right of way acquisition, etc for these entrance/exit avenues and what is the source of payment for the same?
9. CAO Crawford advised that the $1.9 million annual payment for the proposed $30 million revenue bond would be paid from the Riverfront Fund until such time as “the development comes on line (three to five years). It will produce enough revenue streams to pay for itself.” Please identify the referenced revenue streams.
10. If Riverfront Development funds are to be used to subsidize the operations of the complex, what is the timeline for self-sufficiency of the revenue streams, i.e. when is it anticipated that the subsidy will not be needed?
11. If Riverfront Development funds are to be directed to the complex, what funding to other projects, programs, city departments or other organizations will be cut or deleted, i.e. what budgets will be cut to fund this subsidy?
12. What is the anticipated job creation—full time and part time-from the sports complex?
The Council should press Tyler to answer these questions, and others, before voting. Although this is first of several votes needed to accomplish this project, the sooner the realities are known the better. And really there are no reasons to need address these factors now versus later.
According to the Fact Sheet prepared for the City Council, the “resolution is only a preliminary step in the process and it does not obligate the City financially.” But as most citizens realize, the further down the street of dreams that the government engine goes, the harder it will be for elected officials to put a stop on a project and objectively analyze its merits.
And for the four Council members (Flurry, Bradford, Lynch and Bowman) who seek re-election next fall, a “yes” vote on this resolution will most likely end their political careers, much like this project could be the death knell for Tyler’s re-election.