Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tech Park Authority announces site criteria UPDATE

Posted By on Tue, Jul 10, 2012 at 9:25 AM

techpark.JPG

The Little Rock Technology Park Authority has announced that it has developed criteria for potential sites of the city taxpayer-financed building that is envisioned as a lure for private technology ventures.

Information for potential sites must be submitted by Aug. 31.

The Authority, a creation of a law developed by the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce and run administratively by the chamber, has been enmeshed in controversy since targeting three residential neighborhoods between UAMS and UALR for the project. The Little Rock City Board, which is providing the money ($22 million from a sales tax increase pushed in a campaign run by the chamber), urged a wider search for property that wouldn't dislocate neighborhoods.

The full news release is on the jump. In it, the release from Authority Chair Mary Good said of the original sites:

Although the three sites are not now being considered, the reports’ recommendations for building placements, appropriate phase build out, utility utilization, etc., will be of use for whatever site is ultimately chosen. These issues and the environmental questions — both aesthetic and practical — will be the subject of the Board’s discussion at the August meeting.

The site submission criteria are listed here. They are general attributes for each site, rather than a set of requirements that sites meet certain rules, such as minimum acreage or, say, a minimum driving time from UALR and UAMS. That short drive previously had been a firm desire of the Authority Board, but it has been roundly criticized by the city board, residents and UAMS, which has withheld its payment to the tech park effort because of concerns over site selection. Clearly, however, location could end up influencing Authority members when they make a decision. Good has made it clear several times that she could envision a scenario in which the residential neighborhoods might yet be considered, though city officials, the latest being Mayor Mark Stodola, seemed to have ruled that out.

I have made an FOI request for the final engineering firm report on the three original sites. It has been completed and the news release said it would be posted on the Tech Park website, but it is not there currently.

A number of property owners have suggested alternate sites. Drawing high attention has been commercial acreage on the east side of Interstate 30 downtown near the Clinton Library, Heifer International and Acxiom headquarters.

UPDATE: This Tech Park can't, or won't, shoot straight.

I asked Jay Chesshir, the chamber boss who's running the Tech Park show generally, about the seeming lack of specifics in the so-called criteria, such as minimums for acreage, distance from institutions and the like. He sent me this note:

As has been requested, all Little Rock sites will be considered. The document asks for all of those things you’ve mentioned.

I followed up and asked, just to be clear, that the criteria actually weren't criteria at all, in a commonly understood sense, merely a request for information. He didn't respond. But that's all people with potential sites received in letters inviting them to provide the general information.

But then Chair Mary Good responded to a question from Leslie Peacock about criteria:

There is some confusion about the one page sheet that went out with the news release this morning. That sheet is the factual cover sheet for those folks recommending a Park site. The criteria for evaluating the sites are being finalized by the committee. I expect their final copy this week (maybe tomorrow) and it will be posted on the web site and I will send you a copy.
Mary Good

In short, the news release was in error, from the very first sentence. And misleading. And people with land to sell have already been sent letters about filling in the barebones "criteria" list without any mention that the real criteria are yet to come.

TECH PARK NEWS RELEASE

Little Rock Technology Park Authority Chairman Dr. Mary Good today announced the criteria for all potential site submissions to be considered for development of the Little Rock Technology Park.

The criteria were created by a Chairman-appointed Board committee of Dickson Flake and Michael Douglas, in consultation with Charlie Dilks, the Board’s site consultant. Criteria include information required by the Board in order to evaluate each potential site.

The criteria will be posted on the Authority’s website — www.lrtechpark.com — and sent to all sponsors of the Park and all interested parties who have contacted the Board regarding prospective sites.

As Authority sponsors have requested, Board Member Dickson Flake will also contact commercial real estate brokers throughout central Arkansas in order to make them aware of the Board’s interest in reviewing any and all Little Rock sites which may be available. Through this proactive Board action, a thorough search will be conducted.

Site information is due by August 31, 2012 and may be delivered to the Little Rock Technology Park Authority, c/o Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce, One Chamber Plaza, Little Rock, Arkansas 72201.

The final report on the original three sites has been submitted to the Board by the engineering firm, Crafton Tull & Associates, Inc. The report will be posted at www.lrtechpark.com. Although the three sites are not now being considered, the reports’ recommendations for building placements, appropriate phase build out, utility utilization, etc., will be of use for whatever site is ultimately chosen. These issues and the environmental questions — both aesthetic and practical — will be the subject of the Board’s discussion at the August meeting.

The Board Chair reported that there will be no July meeting. The August meeting will be held on Wednesday, August 15th at 4:00 p.m. at a location to be determined.

Chairman Good also announced the Neighborhood Housing Committee will convene its first meeting on Tuesday, July 24th at 5:00 p.m. at the Willie L. Hinton Neighborhood Resource Center.

CORRECTION NOTICE FROM CHAMBER

In a release earlier today, a Site Submission Form required of all parties submitting potential sites for the Little Rock Technology Park was erroneously labeled “criteria.”
 
Authority Board Members Dickson Flake and Dr. Michael Douglas are continuing their work with the Authority’s consultant, Charlie Dilks, regarding establishment of uniform criteria. Once complete, the criteria will be released to the public via a news release and on www.lrtechpark.com. Meanwhile, the Form will provide consistent information on each submitted site so that each may be fairly and equally considered.
 
We apologize for this miscommunication.

Tags: , , ,

Favorite

Speaking of...

  • More on LRSD tax

    January 5, 2017
    When the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and a Walton Foundation-paid lobbyist, long devoted critics of the Little Rock School District, lead the messaging for a quarter-billion dollars in new tax debt for the district, it is cause for caution. /more/
  • Little Rock school tax? No deal.

    December 22, 2016
    The Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce is busy back-room politicking and — again — supporters of democratic public schools should be wary. /more/
  • Fighting for the Little Rock School District; absent a state commitment count me a skeptic

    December 20, 2016
    Little Rock School District supporters met with the governor today in hopes of getting a commitment for return of local control and to prevent school closures. Count me a skeptic, particularly about a movement to support a school tax. Will it just end up benefitting charter schools? /more/
  • Chamber of Commerce at work picking a Pulaski school board

    November 6, 2016
    Campaign finance reports reveal the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce efforts to control the majority of the Pulaski County School Board, all to be decided in elections next wek. /more/
  • UALR names John Burgess to Tech Park Board

    June 29, 2016
    UALR Chancellor Joel Anderson has named John Burgess to succeed Mary Good in a seat on the Little Rock Technology Authority Board. /more/
  • City Year joins chamber to focus on Hall High School

    May 25, 2016
    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/
  • LR Chamber praises Kurrus, but silent on the outrage

    April 19, 2016
    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/
  • Another endorsement for bus tax: NLR chamber

    February 12, 2016
    The Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce has been mum on the public transit tax to be voted on March 1, but not the North Little Rock chamber: It announced today its support for the 0.25-cent increase for Rock Region Metro operations, saying it would "provide the agency the autonomy needed to make the current transit route system more efficient and responsive to our community's changing mobility demands and support more, better and modern bus service to central Arkansans." /more/
  • Tech Park chair Mary Good to step down

    February 11, 2016
    Dr. Mary Good, who has been the chair of the Little Rock Technology Park Authority board since its formation as a nonprofit in 2011, informed UALR Chancellor Joel Anderson in a letter Jan. 20 that she will step down March 15, it was announced at Wednesday's tech park board meeting. She said she would stay longer, if needed, until her replacement is named. /more/
  • Smart growth? Not in LR

    January 21, 2016
    The Highway Department is one thing. It builds freeways. Alternative roadways, bike lanes, pedestrians and mass transit are low on its priority list. But you'd hope for better from Little Rock leaders. /more/
  • More »

Comments (14)

Showing 1-14 of 14

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-14 of 14

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

Most Shared

Visit Arkansas

"Locally Labeled" passport expands to accommodate booming brew scene

"Locally Labeled" passport expands to accommodate booming brew scene

As if great beer weren't reward enough, you can earn prizes for sampling local craft beverages

Most Viewed

  • Cotton seeks friendlies for town hall

    Is Tom Cotton working to pack his town hall Wednesday in Springdale with fans. So says one source.
  • NRA opposes campus carry bill as amended

    The NRA, which calls most shots on gun bills in Arkansas, now opposes the campus carry bill primarily because it adds an additional training requirement before anyone 25 and older can take a concealed weapon on a public college campus.
  • House committee approves vote suppression amendment

    A House committee today talked about stripping colleges and the Highway Department of power and tightening procedures on constitutional amendments but in the end voted as Chairman Bob Ballinger orchestrated and expected — to put a Voter ID amendment on the 2018 ballot.
  • Prosecutor Cody Hiland says analysis indicates Damascus is a speed trap

    Prosecuting Attorney Cody Hiland has announced completion of a State Police analysis of Damascus police speed limit enforcement and concluded that statistics indicate tickets are written in excess of limits in law that define speed traps.
  • City board squelches Little Rock school talk

    A letter from Little Rock school activist Dr. Anika Whitfield happens to underscore a point I made earlier today — and in a column to be published this week. It lays some of the school district's problems on benign neglect, and sometimes malice, of the Little Rock City Board.

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation