by Max Brantley
The Crafton Tull engineering firm has submitted its review of the three sites being considered for the Little Rock Technology Park — east of Interstate 30 near the Clinton Library; on the west side of John Barrow Road and at Asher and University.
The report, with site maps, estimates structure acquisition and demolition costs and notes potential development impediments — truck traffic near the Sixth and Collins site downtown; some flood zone property on the Asher site; site limitations that will require taller buildings on the Barrow site, for example. The report mentions environmental concerns downtown and at Asher and University, but said they'd have to be addressed by others.
The Tech Park board is to meet Wednesday. Consultant Charles Dilks, who's been consistently negative about the three finalists, will comment on the engineers' findings. No vote is officially scheduled, but participants think a vote may be near.
Tom Butler, vice chancellor for administration and governmental affairs at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, a park sponsor, is replacing Dr. Michael Douglas, retiring director of UAMS Bioventures, on the tech park board.
Dr. Mary Good, chairman of the board, said the board would not hear from entrepreneurs in biotech research at the meeting, which was requested at the last meeting of the board. She said that would happen at a later date, though it was suggested last month it should be an important factor in site selection. She said "people have forgotten" that the park's "clients" are UAMS and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and Arkansas Children's Hospital, a not-so-oblique reference to a recent push from business interests that the downtown site would be the most attractive to tech start-ups looking to locate here.
UPDATE: Now we have a Feb. 6 letter from Charles Dilks, the consultant hired and guided from the inception of this project by Dickson Flake, a developer who favors using the neighborhood south of UAMS. As he says — speaks for itself: