The Little Rock Technical Park Authority board of directors today had exchanges with a still-unsettled group of residents at its monthly meeting, at which the board voted to hire a consultant to advise them on the location of the proposed $50 million park.
At the conclusion of the meeting, University District Development Corp. board member Joe Busby, a longtime activist for the Oak Forest and Fair Park neighborhoods, asked the board to sign a “social contract” (on the jump) with the people whose property could be taken by eminent domain by the Authority. The contract asks the board to treat people uniformly and equitably in acquisition; ensure relocation assistance is provided to all displaced persons; ensure that no one is displaced without making sure that “decent, safe and sanitary” housing is available within their financial means; be open to the public and make financial disclosures; to encourage acquisition without coercion and to make public all factors that have gone into the process of site selection before taking any action to acquire properties. Board chair Mary Good said she thought it was an “extraordinarily nice piece of work” and that the board would consider it.
Afterward, State Sen. Joyce Elliott told a small group that she intends to amend the state’s eminent domain legislation to require a people impact study and provide counsel for property owners. She noted that the Authority board will use tax dollars in their negotiations with land owners and that land owners should get some legal help from those dollars as well.