When is a win not a win? 

When the Tech park board includes an 'unless.'

click to enlarge Mary Good image
  • Brian Chilson
  • GOOD: Says board position is basically unchanged.

If you talk to City Director Joan Adcock, the three neighborhoods south of Interstate 630 and east of University that the Little Rock Technology Park Authority has been assessing no longer face the bulldozer. "You won," she told the Forest Park Neighborhood Association last week after Authority board chair Dr. Mary Good released a letter saying the three sites would be "taken off the table." To Adcock, the matter is settled.

But maybe not. Good's letter contains a caveat: the neighborhoods will "not be given further consideration unless there is substantial neighborhood interest and support" from an area, leaving that neighborhood again vulnerable to the board's power to take properties through eminent domain.

What constitutes "substantial"? To Adcock, substantial would mean, she said, "I would have to have everybody come and tell me that's what they wanted." The Authority board hasn't spelled out what it means.

To real estate lawyer Jason Bolden, however, substantial means a group he represents that he says owns 40 properties in and around what civil engineers are calling Area 3, Forest Hills, the area closest to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, he told the Authority in May and Adcock via e-mail this week.

It's not surprising Bolden is willing to give up his Forest Hills property. He's held it — eight addresses and perhaps nine — for less than a year, buying it after it was announced the neighborhood was being considered for the park, either by negotiation or condemnation. Another dozen plus properties have been bought in the past year by Mike Ashcraft (doing business as Star Properties LLC, Downtown Little Rock Properties and Equity Properties), who has also sold property to the Central Arkansas Library System for its Children's Library on Fair Park in a deal negotiated by Tech park board member Dickson Flake. Other willing sellers are David and Gail Oyster, owners of a dozen rental properties in Forest Hills.

Good released what seemed at first blush to be a conciliatory letter Thursday in response to city displeasure at the conduct of a tech board meeting Wednesday. At that meeting, the board continued discussion of the three proposed sites with their civil engineer, Crafton Tull, which seemed to snub a city ordinance passed only Tuesday that acknowledged residents' objections to the taking of their homes and requested the board do a six-month "extensive study" of alternative sites. (The city can only request action by the board, which was created by state legislation, but it does have a hammer: $22 million in city tax dollars pledged to the start-up of the technology park.)

On Monday, however, Dr. Good insisted that the board's position is basically unchanged since before the passage of the ordinance, though the language about requiring substantial support for a neighborhood to go back on the table is new, as its request that support for any of the three locations be communicated to Adcock, as an at-large director, and Director Ken Richardson, in whose ward the three possible sites lie. As for the rest, Good said, "it's exactly what we said on Wednesday, that we will prioritize and do nothing until we've looked at all the alternatives."

There's no question that the neighborhoods — Area 3, around 40 acres in Forest Hills between Monroe on the west and Peyton on the east north of 12th Street; Area 2, 40 acres in Fair Park south of 12th largely between Fair Park and Harrison Street, and Area 1, 60 acres north of the UALR campus east of University Avenue, the location of the Methodist Children's Home — are the first choices of the Authority; two of the locations were determined by a consultant and the third by Authority board member Dickson Flake. Any alternative to them, Good said, will have to meet certain criteria that the Authority board is now in the process of drawing up. She wouldn't say whether the much-debated "five minute" rule (which City Director Dean Kumpuris described as "malarkey") that would limit the distance the park could be from Authority partners the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock would be part of the criteria. "In our mind it's not a contested issue," a description a reporter had used, Good said of the five-minute rule. "Where the location goes it is still going to, in our opinion, be relatively close to the institution."

Speaking of...

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

More by Leslie Newell Peacock

  • Arkansas reading room

    A survey of some of the season's best local books.
    • Oct 30, 2014
  • What about the Arkansas ballot issues?

    To give the legislature more power, the people less, a wetter state, longer term limits and a bump in the minimum wage.
    • Oct 30, 2014
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Where to put the Tech Park

    Ten alternatives to neighborhood wipeout the Tech Park board could consider.
    • Aug 1, 2012

Most Shared

  • Koch mailer: We know who you are, we know if you vote

    Still more complaints rolling in — including from Republicans — about the mail campaign of the Koch-brothers-funded Americans for Prosperity to scare people into voting.
  • Pat Hays' NRA membership riles Republicans

    Democratic 2nd District Congress candidate Pat Hays is causing conniption fits among Republicans because a new TV ad shows him with his guns and mentions his long-time membership in the National Rifle Association.
  • Talk is cheap; state government isn't: Preparing for the new GOP order

    The state looks at rising prison and school costs in a world where the theme of Republican political campaigns is reducing government and cutting taxes. Does anybody in that party know arithmetic?
  • Live Review: Nahko and Medicine for the People at Rev Room

    Thursday night, Portland, Oregon’s Nahko and Medicine for the People brought their “musical medicine” to Little Rock’s Revolution Music Room, a fitting venue for the socially-conscious music collective. Their uplifting medley of folk, urban and world music, as well as hypnotizing videos featuring their music have enchanted activist-minded music fans across the world in the relatively short time they have been creating music together.
  • What about the Arkansas ballot issues?

    To give the legislature more power, the people less, a wetter state, longer term limits and a bump in the minimum wage.

Latest in Arkansas Reporter

Event Calendar

« »

October

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31  

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

 

© 2014 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation