by Max Brantley
Hot Springs has a main street homeless controversy, too. But as with most things in Hot Springs, it's a little more complicated than that.
Sorry I can't link the story in the Hot Springs Sentinel-Record, which has an iron curtain of a pay wall. But the nub of it is this:
The Roberts family, which operates sightseeing tours in amphibious vehicles known as ducks, has been denied permission to convert some Central Avenue parking spaces into permanent parking spots for the ducks. Merchants don't want to lose the parking spots for their customers.
This has been a simmering political squabble. The Roberts clan ratcheted things up a notch this week after the city council, in addition to denying the duck parking, upheld planning commission denial of a permit for a homeless shelter for women and children in a former nursing home on Woodfin. A member of the Roberts family promptly said they would establish a shelter for the homeless in a parking lot they own on Central Avenue. They're promising tents, portable toilets and other items for a homeless camp on Hot Springs' prime tourism strip.
Tracy Roberts, co-owner of Ducks in the Park, told the newspaper the treatment of the homeless was an "injustice" and needed to be remedied, by recall of most of the members of the council, if necessary.
Justice? Herding homeless women and children into a tent camp on a Main Street to be fed with snack bars and warmed-up canned soup? For want of duck parking spaces?
PS — So you can keep players straight, the Duck owners want to boot every one but Mayor Ruth "Shoot the tourists" Carney and council member Peggy Maruthur.