When it rains Tech Park news, it pours. This just in from Leslie Newell Peacock:
UAMS has not paid the second of four installments it's pledged toward the construction of the Little Rock Technology Park out of concern the Technology Park Authority board is not working to find a location alternative to the three residential areas under consideration from the outset.
UAMS, UALR, Arkansas Children's Hospital and the city of Little Rock donated $25,000 each last year; each partner (and ACH, which is not a partner but is giving financial assistance) has pledged $125,000, to be paid in five installments. Spokesman Dan McFadden said he believes Children's has made its second installment. Neither UALR Chancellor Joel Anderson nor city leadership could be reached to see if they planned to pay.
UAMS Chancellor Dan Rahn was out of town today, but Tom S. Butler, vice chancellor for administration and governmental affairs at UAMS, said the chancellor wants to see the Authority board take part in alternative site selection, rather than just receive proposals. Dr. Mary Good, chair of the board, said at the board's last meeting that it did not plan to participate in coming up with alternatives. Rahn, Butler said, "thinks they would have the finances to be able to look at these other areas and evaluate them."
Butler, who grew up south of 12th Street on Adams, near one of the three study sites, is a member of a committee named by the board to work with residents of the Forest Hills and Fair Park neighborhoods between UALR and UAMS to hear concerns and help them find housing should their neighborhood be chosen for demolition. The committee was to meet last week, but board member Jay Chesshir sent a note out saying the "committee had not decided on either of the three spots," Butler said, and wasn't going forward.
"We want to see how things are going and that everything is being considered" before making a payment, Butler said. "I think we should look at everything. We're not hung up on the five-minute rule," he said, referring to the Authority board's criteria that the park be within five minutes driving distance between the "owners" of the park.
Chesshir, CEO of the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce, said there's no deadline for payment of the contributions. Chesshir is one of three Chamber-related members of the seven-member board operating the authority. The Chamber is operating it administratively and promoted the law that created it. The Chamber also ran the campaign in support of the city sales tax that will provide $22 million as the first payment on building the tech park.
Update: McFadden confirmed that Children's has made its installment. Update 2: UALR has also paid its $25,000 "for all practical purposes," Chancellor Joel Anderson said this afternoon. He said he was aware that Rahn had decided to withhold UAMS', but that Rahn had not approached other partners to urge them to follow suit. Anderson called the tech park siting a "regrettable disaster" so far, but he is optimistic that with time consensus will emerge. "My guess is there will be some attractive alternative" arise. All proposals need to be "fully evaluated on their merit." He said he will do "what I can do to assure the process is legitimate and wholesome."
Interest in leasing space in the Little Rock Technology Park under construction in the 400 block of Main Street is a "comfortable amount" for this stage in the project, Authority board chair Kevin Zaffaroni said today at the board's monthly meeting. He declined to say how many floors of the first building to open, at 417 Main St., that comfortable amount might include, since no leases are final. /more/
The United States Department of Agriculture has awarded researchers at Arkansas Children's Hospital Research Institute and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences a $1.4 million grant to find out why Arkansans are among the fattest people in the nation. /more/
The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, in what might be one of its last grants in Arkansas since it's spending down the corpus, has announced a $1.5 million grant to the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. /more/
City Year, the Americorps program that has put volunteers in Little Rock schools since 2004, will join city business leaders today in a partnership to be based at Hall High School in the 2016-17 school year. /more/
Now that the Stephens properties on Main Street and Fifth have been sold to The Little Rock Technology Park, what is Stephens' share in the Metrocentre Improvement District assets, I wondered as I wrote yesterday's item on the potential sale of Henry Moore's "Large Standing Figure: Knife Edge." /more/
I don't guess I should have expected better from the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce than "concern" on the Hutchinson administration's undeserved ouster of Baker Kurrus as Little Rock school superintendent. /more/
A college student and his dad who visited a gun range over the weekend for some bonding time over target practice were told to leave after the owner grew suspicious that the pair were...Muslims! Nope, not Muslims — they just happened to not be white. Either way, though, it's rank discrimination.
The University of Texas opened classes in Austin this week with a bit of student protest. The "Cocks Not Glocks" campaign encourages students to carry dildos and sex toys to mock the beginning of a new state law that allows concealed weapons on campus.
On residency requirements for LRPD officers and why many of his officers choose to live outside the city, community policing, mass incarceration, juvenile justice, assault rifles and gun control and more.