Protests build on Tech Park neighborhood designs | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Protests build on Tech Park neighborhood designs

Posted By on Thu, Jun 14, 2012 at 8:52 AM

DR. ANIKA WHITFIELD
Dr. Anika Whitfield, who's been among the well-organized band of neighbors opposing the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce's desire to steamroller a poor minority neighborhood for a taxpayer-funded office building to house private companies, isn't assuaged by City Director Dean Kumpuris' suggestion of a six-month moratorium on site selection for a thorough search of alternatives.

It's been noted before that 1) the moratorium is meaningless in the time line already projected for the Little Rock Technology Park development process; 2) it's primarily a delaying tactic to defuse opposition (Director Gene Fortson's condescending comments about opponents is an accurate representation of the Chamber establishment's view of the neighborhood residents' ability to think for themselves); 3) the City Board has no control over the independent Tech Park Authority except to withhold taxpayer money. That won't happen because it would mean disobedience to the Chamber, which runs Little Rock city government.

Whitfield has a more personal view of the city's disrespect for the homes of poor people. Her letter to the City Board follows. It is also followed by a letter from the We Shall Not Be Moved Coalition urging support June 19 for Director Kenneth Richardson's ordinance to prevent use of city tax money to seize homes by eminent domain. And also a letter from Justice of the Peace Donna Massey.

Mr. Kumpuris,

After reading your resolution yesterday and your comments along with those of other members of the city board directors, I realize that you and many others still don't "get" what the residents in these three neighborhoods in Little Rock are saying: "leave our homes alone", "find another place that does not involve the loss of people's homes."

Buying time is NOT ENOUGH. A resolution is NOT ENOUGH.

I submit to you that is not ok to use wealth and privilege or to abuse power and authority by taking advantage of people who are not as wealthy and privileged and who have entrusted power and authority to citizens they elected to serve them.

No, it is NOT ENOUGH to post-pone the inevitable (continuing a process that looks at choosing a neighborhood rather than non-residential areas that are not in use or could serve a more beneficial purpose).

We NEED an ORDINANCE that takes homes off the table of discussion.

Please don't continue to belittle our collective, unified, warranted position to protect our homes, our neighbor's homes, our friend's and families homes, and our church member's and community member's homes.

Your home, a private and personal place where you have raised your children (and perhaps grandchildren), welcomed your family and friends, and created a place of peace and refuge from the troubles of this world, IS NOT being threatened by the LR Technology Park.

Why are you willing to let someone else lose their home this month or six months from now?

We ask you to "do unto others as you would have others do unto you," to "love your neighbor as you love yourself," to "not covet your neighbor's home," and to "uphold justice and to love mercy."

We the people elected you to serve us, not money and power.

Please reconsider your stance and DO THE RIGHT THING: support Director Richardson's Ordinance that protects LR citizen's homes from private businesses and from using city tax dollars to evict city tax-payers from their own homes.

Peace and Blessings,
Anika

Dr. Anika T. Whitfield
Podiatrist

Rev. Anika T. Whitfield
Minister to Children and Youth
New Millennium Church

WE SHALL NOT BE MOVED COALITION LETTER

Dear Neighbors:

The WE SHALL NOT BE MOVED COALITION is a network of concerned persons and groups working to prevent the City of Little Rock and the recently created Technology Park Authority from disrupting residents from neighborhoods so the Technology Park Authority can build a research park for private business investors. The Technology Park Authority has targeted three neighborhoods (in Forest Hill, Oak Forest, and Fair Park south of 12th Street) as possible sites for a 30 acre research park. The Authority expects to get $22 million from the City of Little Rock to acquire the land for the research park. Although there is plenty of non-residential land available, the Authority is determined to build the research park in one of these neighborhoods using money provided by the City of Little Rock.

Our neighbors, relatives, and friends live in each of these neighborhoods. Grandparents and children live there. People from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds live there peaceably together. Many residents purchased and rehabilitated the homes they occupy with public financing aimed at stabilizing central city residential neighborhoods. Our neighbors should not be forced from their homes and neighborhoods so an entity created for private business interests can take their land and build an office park with our tax dollars.

Director Kenneth Richardson of the Little Rock Board of Directors has proposed an ordinance (a local law) that will prohibit any City of Little Rock funds or other resources from being provided to the Technology Park Authority, directly or indirectly, for the purpose of exercising eminent domain on any residential neighborhood property in Little Rock. The Little Rock Board of Directors will consider that ordinance on Tuesday, June 19, at 6 p.m. This ordinance will protect our neighbors by preventing City funds and other resources from being used to take their homes to build the research park.

Please tell the Board of Directors to pass Director Richardson's ordinance. Urge neighborhood leaders, religious leaders, and other persons to tell Mayor Mark Stodola, Director Dean Kumpuris, Director Brad Cazort, Director Stacy Hurst, Director Doris Wright, Director Lance Hines, Director Joan Adcock, Director B.J. (Brenda) Wyrick, and Director Gene Fortson to enact the ordinance that Director Richardson proposed and Director Erma Hendrix supports. Come to City Hall Tuesday night and show City leaders we believe in neighborhoods where people from different income and racial backgrounds live, work, and play together. Please stand with us and help Director Richardson and Director Hendrix get the votes needed to pass the ordinance that will protect our neighbors from this threat.

Little Rock is a city of neighborhoods. We are neighbors. City officials should protect and defend us from being displaced from our homes and neighborhoods by agents of the business lobby who covet our homes. There is plenty of non-residential property where the Technology Park Authority can build the research park.

Please help Director Richardson and Director Hendrix protect our neighbors and their homes by urging City Directors to vote for Director Richardson's ordinance on Tuesday, June 19, at the 6 p.m. Board meeting.

WE SHALL NOT BE MOVED COALITION

Rohn Muse

Donna Massey

Joyce Elliott

Rev. Dr. Anika Whitfield

Neil Sealy

Rev. Wendell Griffen

Jim Lynch

Robert Webb

Rev. Demetria Edwards

Rev. Leroy James

Rev. Marie Mainard O'Connell

Bobbie Phillips

Mae Geddes

Albert Thomas

Gloria Osborne

Grif Stockley

Greg Deckelman

Kaitlin Lott

LETTER FROM JP DONNA MASSEY

I also concur with Dr. Whitfield. A resolution is not enough to ensure my home and many others in Midtown will not be destroyed. A resolution is a nice gesture; however, real commitment must be exemplified through an ordinance.

Respectfully
Donna Massey
Justice of the Peace #6

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