One definition of stupidity is “behavior that shows a lack of good sense or judgment”. (English Oxford Living Dictionary.)
This definition probably fits any future expenditure of public dollars to repair Riverview Park from recent floods of the Red River.
This area has flooded twice this year—in February and March.
Every time the Red River flows over its banks the park, which is across from Riverview Theatre and behind the old Barnwell Center now Aquarium, is impacted. Its flooded three times in the past three years.
When the waters flood into the park, electrical damage is incurred. Additionally, there is damage to the irrigation system and the water spray ground area along Clyde Fant Parkway. The receding waters leave plenty of sand, mud, and debris that also must be addressed.
Over $120 grand has been expended this year to get the park back into pre-flood condition. This includes work on the water fountain, resodding of grass, landscaping, and irrigation system. Sand removal alone was $30 thousand dollars.
The spray ground cannot be repaired. The Shreveport Parks and Recreation (SPAR) budget has funds for repairs and maintenance of the more than 60 SPAR parks, but not for capital improvements. Thus funding of the spray ground replacement must be included in the yet to be adopted 2019 budget.
Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness director Steve Prator has stated unequivocally that it's not “if” but “when” the Red River will flood again, and again and again. Prator’s comments were based on a study by Texas A & M Public Service & Administration masters candidates. ( See “Red River to Flood Again” at Settletalk.com).
The study cites two critical factors as the reasons for flooding as well as the frequency of flooding of the Red River.
The first is urbanization. Many of the river’s floodplains have been developed. Thus there is less area for flood waters to flow into, and less available ground to absorb rain. Thus more runoff into the river channel which causes overflowing of its banks.
The other major contributor to flooding is the locks and dams on the Red River. These slow down the current of the river, which results in substantial silting of the river's bed. The A & M report indicated that the locks and dams also adversely affect the river channel.
Together, urbanization and channelization of the river mean more water flows into the river channel, which has less capacity to handle the water volume. Thus flooding.
The real question is how much more money should be poured into Riverview Park by the City?
The park is in district B. Each of the four district B candidates were asked for there ‘take’ on this issue.
Wendy Vance voiced support for repair of the spray ground but said that the City
should “invest in a system that will not need to be replaced over and over after each flood.”
Craig Lee opined that “fiscal prudence and in-depth analysis is required before investing any additional funds into repairing the water sprays.”
Candidates LeVette Fuller and Laura McLemore failed to respond.
So, what’s the opinion of Shreveport taxpayers who have, unfortunately, carried the freight on major cleanup with more that will be needed in the future?
(This article will be/was published in The Inquisitor on Friday, August 3, 2018.)