New homes in old neighborhoods 

It seems to me that there are a lot of changes in the way new homes are being built in old middle-class and upper-class neighborhoods in Little Rock and North Little Rock.

Drive around Pulaski Heights in Little Rock and you will notice it easily. Old homes there are being bought and torn down, sometimes in one day. Often new, huge, two-or-more-floor houses are taking their place within inches of the property lines. I bet the antiquated neighbors don’t like it.

I know some people on the ridge of Park Hill in North Little Rock who were completely stripped of their captivating views of North Little Rock and Little Rock when clever architects and builders figured out how to fill up some valleys and create lots on the other side of the street that ran along the ridge.

There’s no question that many Park Hill homeowners on the east side were startled and irritated when they woke up to see the tip of a lighted church steeple sticking up in their back yards. This was the work of the First Pentecostal Church that was built below them on Interstate 30. Many of the homeowners went to City Hall to try to get the steeple eliminated or at least shortened. They failed.

What brings this up is the battle now underway trying to preserve the woodland along the lake that is the entry to Lakewood. Sales people at Crye-Leike Realtors, which has offices in Park Hill, are trying to sell 16 huge lots on the attractive hillside forest that’s on the north side of Lake No. 1 in Lakewood. A widow owns the property, and the sellers are asking $525,000. The word is out that at least five different buyers are ready to buy the land so as to build fancy homes on gated cul de sacs that would come off Fairway, the main road into Lakewood known as Snake Hill for its twisty climb to the top of Lakewood.

I have talked to several of the many people who are opposed to building anything on the land. (There are at least 80 because that’s the number that showed up at one meeting of a group that has issued tags that say, “Preserve Our Lake, Keep Snake Hill Safe.)” Here are their main reasons:

1) The backyards of the people who live on the south side of Lakeview Road will lose the view of Lake No. 1 and see the backs or roofs of the new houses on the lake.

2) Snake Hill with its climbs and swerves is the most dangerous and narrow road in the area, especially when it is raining or snowing. Cars and trucks either entering or leaving the cul de sac will be dangerous because of the way the road twists and turns. School buses use Snake Hill five days a week.

3) Keeping the entrance of Lakewood as a park is better than a few more houses on the lake.

Fourteen years ago there was a similar argument about selling this land, and the city government rejected it. Next month the Planning Commission’s subdivision committee will make its judgment, and then the Planning Commission will approve or reverse its work. There’s also a chance that the City Council will make the final decision.

If the answer is yes, the land can be sold, then the Lakewood Improvement District should get busy and buy the land before the contractors buy and start digging out the trees and dirt to build the big new houses. The Improvement District is the organization that makes improvements so that Lakewood will be a better place to live. Its money comes from the taxes that the 3,000 families who live in Lakewood have to pay every year.

People who know the owner say that she would be happier to sell the land to the Improvement District since she has made her home in Lakewood for many years. The District could use some of the land to enlarge and improve the park that is at the opening to Lakewood and leave the rest of the beautiful forest on the lake.

Change can be a wonderful thing, but it’s not always true when it comes to a person’s house.

In my column Oct. 6, I wrote that only 54.5 percent of Arkansas voters voted for president in 2004. The correct figure is 62 percent.



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