SEPARATE WASN'T EQUAL: Remnants of a park segregation built in Granite Mountain, still treated like a dumping ground today.
The Little Rock City Board
agenda Tuesday includes an item that drew some heated comments from Granite Mountain
residents earlier — a proposal from 3M
to expand its existing mining operation into property currently zoned residential, but unoccupied.
The Planning Commission approved the request without a dissenting vote. There was a ruckus at the City Board from long-time Granite Mountain residents because their neighborhood hadn't received notice of the proposal. There's been no change in the city administration's support for the rezoning since. Said the summary distributed to the City Board:
The general vicinity is dominantly occupied by mining and industrial uses. The closest residential areas to the both amendment request areas are in Granite Mountain and
College Station neighborhoods. This area should not be affected from these changes since it is half a mile away from the closest requested amendment at King Road.
Judging from what residents said, living within a half-mile of major mining operations (3M isn't the only operator in the area)is not as uneventful as the bland description would suggest. Blasting, heavy trucks and dust are facts of everyday life already and the ever-encroaching operation isn't viewed benignly in the neighborhood.
(NOTE: 3M also proposes to expand a small buffer zone near College Station. And, a separate 3M request
and right of way on other land
in the area to facilitate mining. The Planning Commission and staff had no objections. Also, a 3M spokesman says all the latest zoning changes contemplate using the land only for buffer or storage, not mining or rock crushing. He said a series of meetings have been held since the Board uproar and the Granite neighbors are now supportive.)
I bring this up primarily to call attention to a fine piece of history about Granite Mountain by UALR's John Kirk
in this week's Arkansas Times
. He was inspired by City Director Erma Hendrix's
recent comment in another context that this neighborhood has always been a dumping ground for the city. It's a shameful symbol of our segregationist past and rarely gets a second thought from the dominant forces. Good place to relocate black people. Good
place to dump the homeless. Good place to mine. A little dust? What's the problem? It's six or seven city blocks from homes.
I highly encourage a read of John Kirk's recitation of the history of Granite Mountain
. It won't fill you with civic pride.
MINING EXPANSION: Area in red at bottom would be converted to mining use. It lies near the Granite Mountain neighborhood. A smaller parcel at top, near College Station, would be expanded buffer land.
NOTE: The City Board also will consider
revoking a planned development on acreage in the John Barrow neighborhood because a broad multi-use project isn't going forward. I'd mentioned this project previously
because of its relationship to plans for a Muslim community including a mosque and community center. That group continues to have plans to build a mosque and community center on adjacent property, they told me recently.