The We Shall Not Be Moved coalition that is fighting, in the court of public opinion, the Little Rock Technology Park Authority plans to erase one of three proposed neighborhoods, has come up with a list of 23 alternate non-residential sites for the park. There are a few oddballs on the list (the lawn of the Blind and Deaf schools, "unused area near Cammack Village"), but several make sense and one of them makes a lot of sense — the empty Alltel offices by the Arkansas River, which are wired and ready to go. Even UAMS likes that area — or at least Chancellor Dan Rahn does, he told the Times last week; he said they'd be a nice place to work, down on the river and all. (The WSNBM list is on the jump.)
The coalition does not include anyone from the Methodist Children's Home, but that doesn't mean the organization owning the 27.7-acre campus, where 140 people in Methodist Family Health's programs reside and where 187 employees work, is eager to give up its 16 buildings and move elsewhere. The Methodist Children's Home is on the hilliest site among the three alternatives, which might be more expensive to develop, but is one in which fewer homes would have to be cleared. Despite its inclusion in the three sites on the table, the organization is forging ahead with long-time plans to put up an expensive iron and brick fence (in the style of UALR's) on the property boundaries.
Dr. Rita Galloway, the executive director of the Arkansas Cares program on the campus, which adjoins the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, said yesterday she appreciates the non-institutional, tranquil feel of the Children's Home property, with its small residential facilities, playgrounds for the children of clients and mature trees.
Tech Park Authority member Dr. Mary Good was until recently on the board of directors of the Methodist Family Health Foundation, but resigned to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. (Full disclosure: Also on the foundation board is Times' editor Lindsey Millar's father, Michael Millar of Searcy.)'
The WSNBM group will rally at the intersection of 12th Street and Jonesboro Drive between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. tomorrow and then pass out fliers in the targeted neighborhoods. The coalition will tour some of the alternate sites it proposes on Saturday, June 16.
NONRESIDENTIAL ALTERNATE SITES
FOR THE TECH PARK
The Clinton Library Park Complex east/south of Heifer International
Lion’s International area behind ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT Bldg.
The War Memorial Golf Course
Near U.S. Pizza on University
Asher, any place East of Fair Park
The Hodges Property at I-430 & I-30
The Brandon House Property – BUILD UP! (Vacant for 10 years)
The Jerry Meyers Suggestion near UALR (See ARKTIMES BLOG)
Unused Area near Cammack Village in the Heights
Near the Airport – Plenty of options there! (Example: Former Aerospace Education Center/school/library/post office at 3301 E. Roosevelt Road.)
10th Street near the Railway – Dodd Property
The former landfill behind the former Coleman Dairy location south of UALR campus (Could capture the methane gas and convert it into electricity! Now that is technology!)
Behind State Capital west to Whitewater Tavern
Vast Lawn in front of Schools for Deaf and Blind
Ray Winder Field (purchased from City of LR by UAMS). Vacant since 2005-06. Within five minutes of UAMS, Arkansas Children's Hospital, McClellan VA Hospital, UALR and within 10 minutes of downtown investment powerhouse Stephens, Inc.).
University Shopping Center construction site. University Mall was there. Target and other retail outlets are there. Again, within the supposedly important five minute range.
M.M. Cohn/Dillard Shopping Mall property across from MetroCentreMall in downtown Little Rock. It has been vacant for over 20 years. City parking deck nearby. Near Arts Center, Rep, Stephens, Chamber of Commerce, within five minutes of ACH and ten minutes of UAMS, McClellan VA, and UALR campuses.
Former Harvest Foods planned community development tract at Highway 10 and Taylor Loop Road in West Little Rock. Vacant for years.
Affiliated Foods distribution center (closed following 2009 bankruptcy). Employed 530 people before closing. Located in a commercial area badly in need of research and technology presence. Five minutes from UALR. Ten minutes from UAMS.
West Little Rock Office Park, Rodney Parham Road near Windstream. It is an office park!
Unused All-Tel buildings in Riverdale following Verizon merger.