Gene Pfeifer, the bike enthusiast and developer who donated land he owned on the north side of the Arkansas River to the Arkansas River Trail, has asked the Dillard family follow suit for the good of the community.
Dillard’s headquarters backs up the Arkansas River on the south side. The company has so far turned down requests by the city of Little Rock for access to build a trail on the property that would connect the downtown portion of the trial with Riverfront Drive. (Because of development and private property, the Little Rock portion of the River Trail is not the smooth, unimpeded path that it is on the north side.)
The city has drawn up plans to build a bridge-like trail on the bluff below the Dillard’s property, but it would be a hugely expensive undertaking — as much as $12 million — requiring a build-as-you go engineering strategy rather than ground-up construction.
Pfeifer’s letter to Bill Dillard II opens:
Please allow the Arkansas River Trail to be completed along your headquarters property and contribute to economic development, enhanced tourism and the quality of life in your home town. Linda and I were privileged to be able to donate 1 ¼ miles for the trail in North Little Rock and not a day goes by that we aren’t richly rewarded thereby. The trail provides recreation, fitness, quality of life, and helps fight obesity. Being on the trail occasionally and seeing how it provides our community with a sense of “place” is joyous for us. Please donate the easement and reap this marvelous reward.
In case his appeal to the company to do something for the good of the community, Pfeifer includes another tack: Appeal to the pocketbook. He suggests that Dillard’s could use the trail to enhance sales by creating a private label, “Dillard’s Trail,” for use on fitness attire and camping items, etc. Here’s the full letter.