by Max Brantley
Whatever the ultimate decision is on the I-30 Crossing it will have a lasting impact on the community and traffic in downtown Little Rock. I'm still in the process of studying this complex issue and reviewing the proposals put forth by various groups and individuals.Note that he essentially adopts the view that "the schools" have driven people out of Little Rock. Not me and many of my friends who sent children to public schools, by the way.
I'm a proud policy wonk and I always strive to know all that I can about any issue that will effect Little Rock. I want to personally meet with traffic engineers, community leaders and other stakeholders to learn the advantages and disadvantages of every proposal.
I do not take this decision lightly and believe it's incumbent upon me to be fully informed on all proposals before making my final decision.
However, the width of the I-30 Crossing is only part of the conversation about Little Rock highways. Let's broaden the focus beyond just those who frequent downtown and think about all of Little Rock.
Let's broaden the conversation and talk about why so many people work in Little Rock, but prefer to live somewhere other than our great city. These are the many of the same people who use I-30 and have dramatically increased its traffic.
Let's talk about making smart investments in public schools, public works, and how we reduce crime so people feel safe in their community.
We must work together to find solutions to the chronic police shortage in Little Rock and reconcile the perception among some that it is safer to reside in towns other than Little Rock.
If we can stem the tide of commuters and bring people back to living in Little Rock then we can see Little Rock's sales tax base and property tax base grow naturally. A broader tax base means more revenue for public schools, for fixing potholes, for operating parks, for hiring police and all the things a city needs.
If we can stem the tide of commuters and bring people back to Little Rock then we can see existing home prices in Little Rock rise even as new homes of all prices are built.
I love Little Rock. It's where my wife and I choose to live, work and our raise our daughter. I'm excited about the possibility of serving as City Director and working to improve this wonderful city.
I believe that the most important issues surrounding the controversy of the 30 Crossing project are quality of life, safety and economic development.KICKER: Within recent days, Peck tells me, a young man said to be with Americans for Prosperity, the Koch-backed political organization, went down to the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau for records of business done by the agency with Peck's restaurant. Peck has no problem with that. It's a public record. She's served 10 years on the Little Rock Advertising and Promotion Commission, the board that oversees the bureau. The records, said Peck, showed she'd done $7,000 worth of business with the bureau over the years. Not much, but it's probably enough to provide material for an attack mailer from AFP against Peck, who, by the way, has shipped about $1 million in hamburger tax revenue to the bureau in her years in business.
Regardless of what we end up with, we definitely need to replace the bridge and the first exit on Cantrell for safety reasons. The current plan does appear to be safer than the original plan, and it is generally more acceptable, but I have concerns about the impact on downtown neighborhoods. I think there is potential for a significant amount of green space with the current proposal which is good, but who will pay for that? I am definitely not convinced that we need to add those lanes.
I wish that it would be required reading for city officials to study the dozens and dozens of posts and articles on the Improve 30 Crossing Facebook page. Can we not learn from the mistakes and victories of other cities? The examples, research and data are voluminous.
I am extremely disappointed that the Metroplan Advisory Committee's recommendation was ignored. I am opposed to the waiver and supported the Keep the Cap movement.
So much of what citizens and businesses of Little Rock have done to invest in and revitalize areas such as Hanger Hill/ East Village, SOMA, Central High District, etc. is threatened by the 30 Crossing project. I believe this project has tremendous quality of life issues at stake. I think it undermines the progress we have made in these formerly distressed neighborhoods.
The 30 Crossing decision is HUGE! It will affect generations to come. I think this really is a crossroads for Little Rock and will ultimately position us as either a great small southern city with exciting opportunities for future development.