by Max Brantley
The hot neighborhood issue over use of a former Easter Seals facility at the east end of Lee Avenue on nine acres controlled by the Board of the Arkansas Schools for the Blind and Deaf won't come to a board vote tonight.
I mentioned last night that there was some unease in the neighborhood about the speed of a deal by Easter Seals to turn over its ground lease and sell the old building to John Chandler, a Little Rock businessman, who'd use part of the building for a business selling clothing manufactured elsewhere to retailers, and lease other portions of the business for offices. Residents only began to learn some details late last week.
Glenn Borkowski, president of the Hillcrest Residents Association, said the proposal would be explained to the Schools Board tonight as planned, but no action would be taken until after a Nov. 14 appearance by the parties before the Association board. The meeting will be at 6 p.m. at Holy Souls Parish Hall.
As state land, the property falls outside Little Rock zoning controls, which will be an issue neighbors are likely to bring up in terms of building modifications and future uses. Neighbors will question a change from what had been a public service facility to a commercial use, even if it is quiet office operations. The building reportedly would sell for $240,000.
UPDATE: I wasn't there, but neighbors weren't impressed. Easter Seals' hired guns claimed that continued presence of some psychiatrists in the building somehow continued Easter Seals' service mission. "Sleazy," was how one in the neighborhood described it. Why has Easter Seals always been so low-down on its dealings?