Saturday, November 08, 2008

Fayetteville's Regional Park, A Step Closer

After 4 years it's finally coming together. Fayetteville is very close to getting the land for the Regional Park. The City Council voted to annex 855 acres into the city and then voted for the SouthPass PZD. There were a few residents present to make comments on SouthPass. I found the comments by those opposed to the development a bit disturbing. Barbara Moorman, I think represents the critics of the development quite well when she said that it was “too big, too costly and too disruptive”. Then there that’s old dump that’s appears to be quite toxic and is supposedly contaminating the whole site. Sitting there and listening to the comments made by the Council and residents I realized the biggest problem facing everyone was FEAR.
One of the biggest election issues in the mayoral race has been about economics. How is Fayetteville going to overcome its business unfriendly image and bring more businesses into Fayetteville? We aren’t going to get any large companies to come into Fayetteville when the City Council is afraid that a project is too big and too costly. I don’t see how Fayetteville expects to grow with that kind of fear. How are we going to succeed when people complain that a project is too big? How about we get some perspective about project size. The Louisiana Purchase was 524,800,000 acres and the Alaska Purchases was 375,303,680 acres. You know, 855 acres is pretty piddling. How about the cost issue? If we considered costs then we shouldn’t have built the Walton Arts Center, the XNA airport, the NWA mall, I-540 and a whole host of projects and buildings. Disruptive? This project is not going to be anymore disruptive than any other project. Of course, careful planning and addressing issues as they come up will alleviate most problems.

Interestingly, it was fear that pushed the City Council to vote for SouthPass. Kit Williams reminded the Council that the developers have complied with all the legal obligations and ordinances in bringing this development forward. The developers have worked with city staff and have been approved by the planning commission. If the City Council decided to deny the project solely based on the perceived fears then the developers could sue the city of Fayetteville for millions of dollars. Alderman Adella Gray summed it up nicely. She said the city asked for a partner to develop a park, the city needed the park, and the developers have jumped through all the hoops the city required. She said the City Council has an obligation to honor its contract with the developers. I restrained my desire to clap.

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