by Max Brantley
Rusty Matchett, a property owner in the River Market neighborhood, confirms a tip I'd received that opposition was continuing to the effort to rename Third Street east of Main to River Market Avenue.
Matchett says some 100 property owners, vendors and merchants along President Clinton Avenue and nearby have signed a petition opposing the change, which has won Little Rock Planning Commission approval and awaits City Board action.
Matchett's point: There's no river or market along Third and the name change is confusing. (There's fear, too, that it will detract from those along the street that is home to the namesake River Market building.) Matchett's group will meet Monday with those backing the change. They include the Downtown Partnership's Sharon Priest, developers Jimmy Moses and Rett Tucker and others. I've been told Library director Bobby Roberts, a key political player, has been sympathetic to those opposing the name change. Remember when he successfully opposed a hotel for Clinton Avenue? This time, he doesn't have the wealthy Stephens family as a direct beneficiary in the battle, but, of course, they owe him one.
Matchett says his group is fine with a new defining name for Third and would even support River Market Avenue as a name for Commerce Street, which runs into the River Market. He complains, too, that affected neighbors were left out of the discussions. The name change arose from discussions to improve emphasis on the southern edge of the neighborhood and to increase traffic there.