I’ve now heard from two people who attended a committee meeting last night of the Little Rock Technology Park Authority. The committee was established to ease concerns of the residential neighborhoods between UAMS and UALR initially targeted as potential sites for the taxpayer-funded office building (and thus removal of dozens of homes).
Both said Authority Chair Mary Good seemed to indicate 1) continuing dissatisfaction with an Interstate 30 site near Heifer International and the Clinton Library that has been supported by the mayor and many others and 2) a continued interest in addressing “blight” in neighborhoods near UAMS and UALR. Good got supporting comments, my witnesses say, from Bob Johnson, the former state senator from Bigelow (Death Star, he was known then, for opposition to progressive legislation) and also a UALR appointee to the board. He, I’m told, seemed equally fixated on conditions in the residential neighborhoods near UALR. People from the neighborhood and others mostly spoke, I’m told, about interest in the downtown site. Skip Rutherford, dean of the Clinton School of Public Service, parried some of Good’s critical remarks about the site near his campus. Good has complained previously that the site offered downtown isn’t big enough, but backers have said it could be expanded.
If Good and Johnson and Tech Park concept originator Dickson Flake, who specifically targeted the Forest Hills neighborhood at the outset, really do wind up favoring the original targeted neighborhood, that’s three of the four votes necessary for an Authority majority. What’s City Director Joan Adcock going to say then about that neighborhood being “off the table”? Sounds like somebody forgot to tell Johnson and Good. Or maybe they just don’t hear so well.
Anybody else at the meeting with a report?
UPDATE: What follows is a letter from the neighborhood group representing the residential area near the proposed downtown site to C. J. Duvall, who’s chairing the committee on housing concerns: