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Library lurks

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Library lurks

A dispute over a River Market hotel development was settled last week when it was announced that the McKibbon Hotel Group wouldn't build an Aloft Hotel at Clinton Avenue and Commerce after all. It moved the site a block south into a zoning district allowing a taller building. The developer said he might build a four-story commercial development at Clinton and Commerce.

Bobby Roberts, director of the neighboring Central Arkansas Library System, had opposed the original site on account of its height. But he also has long coveted the property for potential library use, perhaps for an auditorium.

Roberts was ebullient about the outcome after it was announced. But wasn't he sorry that the land would still be lost to library use?

“We can still condemn it,” he responded. He has no such plans at the moment. There's no hurry. The proposed commercial project isn't ready to go forward. Developers say it won't go forward on a speculative basis, but will be built only when tenants are signed on the dotted line.

 

Hurt poor, help poor

Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families won't be a major player in the legislature's work on setting up a new state lottery, but it will try to assure that low-income students get their fair share of the money raised for college scholarships, according to the group's executive director, Rich Huddleston. The Advocates' idea of a fair share for low-income students may differ from that of others. Huddleston said that if low-income Arkansans would be disproportionately harmed by the lottery approved by the voters last month, and all studies suggest they would be, “they probably should benefit disproportionately as well.” The Advocates, who opposed the adoption of a lottery, will not become involved in other lottery issues.

 

Season's greetings

Have you noticed the new billboard recently erected alongside the Main Street bridge on lanes leading from Little Rock to North Little Rock? “Beware of Dogma,” the billboard says.

It's the work of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a national group of atheists and agnostics that campaigns for religion-free government. The billboard is a specific reaction to the state of Arkansas's continued display of a Nativity scene on the Capitol grounds.

“We are going wherever an irreverent billboard is needed — which is practically everywhere,” said Annie Laurie Gaylor, the foundation president. The group promised to “pursue” the “church-state violation” by Arkansas next year.

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