Athens of the Ozarks? No longer, perhaps | Street Jazz

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Athens of the Ozarks? No longer, perhaps

Posted By on Sun, Jun 3, 2007 at 10:14 PM

Richard S. Drake

It was interesting  to read the editorial in the Northwest Arkansas Times today (A Sad development: The Divinity Hotel dies a quiet death), and realize that the old "aginner" phrase seems to have been retired at long last, to be replaced by, of all things, "reactionaries."

Aginners, for those who didn't live through the exciting  battles in Fayetteville during the 1990s, are those who oppose development, who oppose progress - who are against Fayetteville reaching its fullest potential
For some time now, we have been told that we should be mindful of the needs of developers. Needs being just another word for desires.

And what do we have to show for being so mindful of the desires of developers?

Empty storefronts.

Empty restaurants.

An overbuilt housing market.And we are about to have - right in the middle of a condo glut in the country - new condos on the Fayetteville square, and just off Dickson Street.

And put all of that with the lack of real affordable housing in Fayetteville. It seems to me that true affordable housing should be a mixture of affordable homes and affordable rents. Yet more and more of those who work in Fayetteville are discovering that they can not afford to live here.

They live in Elkins, Greenland, Farmington, Springdale and West Fork. You think they are flocking to Fayetteville's "Entertainment District" - a silly name for a section of town only a few blocks long - too spend their money?

And their numbers grow every time people are evicted from their rental homes to make way for upscale developments. More and more people and families seem to vanish in the night. Does anybody care where they go?

For far too long developers have been treated by some as if they have the wisdom of Solomon, when all they really  have is the greed of Croesus.

Fayetteville used to call itself "The Athens of the Ozarks," which I always thought was incredibly pretentious. But I kind of miss it now. I hope someday we can recapture some of that spirit.

If I wanted to live in Rogers or Bentonville I'd move there . . .

rsdrake@nwark.com

 

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