Chuck Haralson and Ken Smith were inducted into the Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame during the 43rd annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism
On Saturday evening May 2, Wolfe Street east of Centennial Park was out of control, yet again. On May 3, the party continued with perhaps 15 people drinking in public, loitering and cars blocking traffic. This ongoing illegal party is just the way it is these days. Please stop it.
In addition to intensified police patrols, please install security cameras in the Centennial Park tower and at each end of Wolfe Street between 15th and 16th. There are almost no lights in the Park or on Wolfe St, as the party goers shoot them out. These, and the cameras, must be checked and replaced as needed. Several dilapidated rent houses and a burn out on Wolfe St. facing the park may be part of the party. A SWAT team including code enforcement, child protective services and the police must ensure that all these houses are safe and on the right side of the law. They are not now. Please reclaim this street from the criminals who now dominate it. This is not rocket science. It just takes City will and action.
In addition to increasing patrols on this street, I urge the City also to reach out to Arkansas Childrens’ Hospital and Arkansas Baptist College, copied here, asking them to extend their patrols to cover this block of Wolfe Street until it is stabilized. The chaos hurts them too. I am also copying the Presidents of CHINI and of WANA.
Over the past decade, I have invested over $1,600,000 in the Central High Historic District where I live. I just bought several homes within earshot of the Park, with plans to invest $250,000 more to restore them. I was not aware of how bad Centennial Park has become. I then heard mid-day shots and screaming in the park, right after I bought a house on it. I hesitate to invest while the gang party continues. Please provide the public safety and order I need to do my work.
While the area has improved, all around me are still empty houses with broken windows, alleys filled with trash and cars with flat tires. I placed multiple 311 requests over six months to clean up a filthy alleyway on 13th Street, behind one of my houses. All were ignored. Some nice 311 employees recently told me that they never cleaned alleys in this neighborhood, as a matter of policy. Here, your city alleys here are in deplorable condition. Apparently you feel no obligation to clean them. You should.
Unsafe and unsecured properties can wait for years without fines or court action, while the city fails to board buildings to ensure their safety. Needless demolitions of historic buildings continue at taxpayer expense. The City’s overly restrictive notice requirements and refusal to use its full legal tools, let scofflaw owners away scott free. My neighbors and I are left with the burden both of their neglect, and of the city’s sluggish and often poor decisions.
My multiple calls, visits and attempts to get the City to pay attention and bring real change rarely bring any response, and never quickly. It’s really discouraging. While the gradual restoration of the Central High area is happening, it happens largely despite City Hall, rather than because of it. Good government can and does make a difference. Little Rock needs to do better.
Please, do whatever you can in your power to take Centennial Park from the gangs, our alleys from the trash heap and our historic homes from risk of demolition. Please make it safe for me to invest, and us to live in peace. Only you can get this done. Thank you for your efforts and attention.
The low point for me came yesterday when a rather unhelpful policeman came to visit me in response to my repeated calls. He was full of “it’s not my department” and “we are powerless to do anything” comments, and spat repeatedly in my yard as we spoke. When I asked about sending in undercover narcotics agents to help break up the ongoing narco-prostitute street fair on that section of Wolfe Street, his response was concern that any agent could be at risk of assault.
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