No movement on LR Port understanding with Quapaw tribe | Arkansas Blog

Monday, January 4, 2016

No movement on LR Port understanding with Quapaw tribe

Posted By on Mon, Jan 4, 2016 at 7:33 AM

STILL IN LIMBO: After a year of dickering, the LIttle Rock Port Authority still hasn't signed off on an agreement on use of this land, owned by the Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma At the foreground is tribe chair John Berrey, picking peas from the property in a project that produces food for a local food bank.
  • STILL IN LIMBO: After a year of dickering, the LIttle Rock Port Authority still hasn't signed off on an agreement on use of this land, owned by the Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma At the foreground is tribe chair John Berrey, picking peas from the property in a project that produces food for a local food bank.

The Little Rock Port Authority has been talking for  almost a year with the Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma about the tribe's use of ancestral land purchased near the port. A memorandum has been drafted and the tribe has agreed to its terms. But the board of the Port Authority still hasn't adopted it.

(UPDATE: Port Director Bryan Day objects to the original phrasing that the memorandum itself had been under discussion for almost a year, putting the formal talks on it back only to June or so. The land was acquired in 2013. People associated with the port have been stirring up objections to free tribe use of the land ever since and it intensified as part of a strategic plan for the port put in motion last February.)

Why the delay in completing the deal? The tribe has specified it has no plans to build a casino on the property, as it has done in Oklahoma. Local business interests have tried by various means to restrict what the tribe can do on its property outside the city (currently farm land), though it is in a no-use-restrictions industrial zone. The excuse has been a purported concern about potential hindrance to future port development. But no one has attempted to enforce any restrictions on other neighboring land owners.Opposition here has been stirred by fear of a casino operation, which could, incidentally, compete with casinos in West Memphis and, particularly, Hot Springs.

I asked Port Director Bryan Day about the delay as well as for copies of any communications relative to the issue. He responded:

The MOU that we have prepared has generated a number of questions and dialogue that we had not worked thru. We (the Little Rock Port Authority) are attempting the due diligence in order to answer everyone's questions and are exploring all of our options at this time. As for written documentation, all we have is the MOU (which you have a copy) - all of my dialogue with Board members and others has been verbal.

I asked for more specifics and remarked about a lack of openness on the part of various officials (I was thinking about particularly Mayor Mark Stodola and County Judge Barry Hyde) in discussing concerns about the Quapaw land:

There have been some questions from the business community; none of them have been in writing. The questions include things like: In reality, how legally binding is the agreement; what potential impact will the agreement have on the Port and our ability to make our own decisions moving forward; is the agreement in conflict with Federal or State law (pertaining to artifacts and historical human remains), etc. I cannot speak to the "openness" of "officials" (because I am not sure who you are referencing) - I can tell you that the Port is just trying to resolve any and all unanswered questions.

Which members of the business community? Day wouldn't say.

I think it is pretty simple. Working in behalf of vested interests, local public officials are doing all they can to put ironclad limits on how a sovereign tribe can use its industrially zoned land outside the city. Would they do the same for non-Indians? The concurrent effort to hamper the tribe in winning federal trust status for the land is evidence of lack of good faith on the part of public officials.

I'm hoping to hear from Quapaw chairman John Berrey about developments, or lack of same.

PS: A friend notes that Oaklawn Park, the Hot Springs casino and racetrack, was a platinum sponsor at the year's annual gathering of the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce, an organization whose reach doesn't generally include Garland County. The chamber has been the source of much of the objecting to the Quapaw's ability to use their ancestral land as they wish to use it.

Tags: , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments (12)

Showing 1-12 of 12

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-12 of 12

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Federal judge wants John Goodson to explain class action maneuvering

    A show-cause order filed Monday by federal Judge P.K. Holmes of Fort Smith indicates class action attorney John Goodson has some explaining to do about the move of a class action complaint against an insurance company from federal to state court with an instant pre-packaged settlement that has been criticized as a windfall for Goodson.
    • Dec 22, 2015
  • The long and winding road: No exception yet for 30 Crossing

    The Arkansas highway department's representative on the Metroplan board of directors told the board today that the department is requesting an exception to the planning agency's cap on six lanes for its 30 Crossing project to widen Interstate 30 from six to 10 (and more) lanes.
    • Jun 29, 2016
  • Al Gore remembers Dale Bumpers

    Former Vice President Al Gore, a former U.S. Senate colleague of Dale Bumpers, sent a statement on Bumpers' death Friday:
    • Jan 3, 2016

Most Shared

  • So much for a school settlement in Pulaski County

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Cynthia Howell got the scoop on what appears to be coming upheaval in the Pulaski County School District along with the likely end of any chance of a speedy resolution of school desegregation issues in Pulaski County.
  • Riverfest calls it quits

    The board of directors of Riverfest, Arkansas's largest and longest running music festival, announced today that the festival will no longer be held. Riverfest celebrated its 40th anniversary in June. A press release blamed competition from other festivals and the rising cost of performers fees for the decision.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

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