by Max Brantley
My mention yesterday of a gaping problem in the bike trail on the Little Rock side of the Arkansas River brought inquiries and an impassioned call to action from Gene Pfeifer, a recreational cyclist whose persistence helped get the Clinton Library off the dime on completing its bridge link to North Little Rock.
The PsyclePath blog takes you step by step through the problem, including the sidewalk-only portion in front of Episcopal Collegiate School along busy Cantrell Road.
Mayor Mark Stodola, also a cyclist, has been saying for five years now he has a plan. If it's in the tax package, I missed it. Maybe he could carve off some of that $38 million "economic development" slush fund and exercise some eminent domain to widen the way for bikers along this corridor.
Read on for Gene's call to action to fellow cyclists Ed Levy and Tom Ezell (who, it should be added, are innocent bystanders to his remarks). Following Gene's letter, you might be interested, too, in a note from a former Dillard's employee about a deal supposedly struck two years ago on running the trail along the river, on the north side of Dillard's property.
Dear Ed and Tom
For Max’s benefit, I am writing this to Ed as President of the Bicycle Friendly Community Committee of the City of Little Rock (BFCC) and to Tom as President of Bicycle Advocacy of Central Arkansas (BACA).
We should all be grateful for Max’s post on Arkansas Blog yesterday at 15:52 regarding the dedication of Two Rivers Bridge. Before he was finished, Max attempted to head off criticism of the expenditure involved by praising the good effect on our community of trails. He said in effect, build more trails as they are a tourist attraction, a health benefit and evidence of a caring community. Further, he offered specific criticism of the ECS and Dillards for being roadblocks and the timidity of the City in not challenging them.
The very first comment to the post and several others indicated a general lack of knowledge that ECS and Dillards were uncooperative and desire for more information. Only one comment (not from me) showed awareness that proper application of City planning and development regulations could have obtained necessary right of way from BOTH parties. No one mentioned the $40,000 the City spent for a now shelved plan to improve the trail in front of ECS, abandoned due to Warren’s bullying.
This is a huge opportunity for both of your organizations and I wish I was in LR to help you exploit this opening.
Thanking Max and publicizing this post are just the beginning. We need to work with Max and otherwise to educate the community on just what obdurate, selfish and shortsighted people are involved with ECS and Dillards and what cowards are running this city that won’t confront them. I have long advocated using the Citizen Comment section of the City Board meetings to make this point and others BEFORE A CITY-WIDE AUDIENCE ON A PROGRAM THAT IS PLAYED NUMEROUS TIMES DURING THE FOLLOWING WEEKS. But I have been overruled by more cautious members of BACAR.
But somehow we need to get the history of this issue before the public. Max has generously opened the door. Perhaps Arkansas Times would be interested in a feature article? This summer is seeing an intensive debate going on over the sales tax and what kind of city we are going to have. It is the ideal time to be discussing this issue. We need to pick up the challenge.
Let me know if I can help from CO
NOTE FROM FORMER DILLARD'S EMPLOYEE
During my time there, we had problems with cars running of the road after the curve on LaHarpe/Cantrell in front of the data center. Several times these cars hit the light pole knocking out power to the data center (and parts of Little Rock). Dillards had been requesting that a guard rail be put up to prevent the cars from running into this light pole. Due to the cost Dillards was always told no. But around 2 yrs ago they finally were told a gaurd rail would be put up IF Dillards would allow a bike trail to be built behind both the corporate office and the data center. I was directly told by upper management about the deal and we had to plan on how we would make sure the data center would be secured while barges were docked outside building this trail.
Since then ....