The passage of the sales tax increase on Sept. 13 gives Mayor Mark Stodola and City Manager Bruce Moore $22 million to give the Central Arkansas Technology Park Authority (CATPA) to build a research park. Little Rock residents should urge the Mayor, City Manager, City Directors, and CATPA members (Dickson Flake, C.J. Duvall, Dr. Mary Good, former State Sen. Bob Johnson, Ed Drilling, Dr. Michael Douglas, and Jay Chesshir) to build the research park at long abandoned and unused (since 2006) Ray Winder Field.
Consider the following factors.
Road access and capacity. Ray Winder Field is easily accessible to UAMS and UALR.
Utilities. Proximity to War Memorial Park, the Little Rock Zoo, UAMS and the McClellan VA hospital means the site already has distribution lines in place for needed utilities.
Development cost. The site is large enough (parking and the ball field combined). It only has one landowner — UAMS, which purchased the property for use as a parking lot. It hasn't been used for other purposes. Demolition of the ball field and construction of the research park should not disturb neighboring property owners.
Surrounding uses. There are no non-compatible uses.
Acquisition cost. Ray Winder Field should be easily attainable and far less costly than the $10 million City Hall said it would give CATPA to acquire land for the research park. As the property is owned by one landowner — UAMS — negotiating the purchase price should be simple. Remember, CATPA has eminent domain power already, so CATPA can exercise that power in acquiring the Ray Winder Field site from UAMS. Given that UAMS has been involved in the thinking about the research park for awhile (Dr. Michael Douglas of UAMS BioVentures has also been working on this idea with the Chamber of Commerce), UAMS shouldn't object to having CATPA's research park as its neighbor.
Potential obstacles (environmental, community, etc.). The only people who might object would be real estate developers who expect to profit from displacing residents in Oak Forest and making them purchase homes elsewhere.
The seven factors listed above are what the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce identified as relevant in site selection for the research park as far back as January 2008 when it issued its request for proposals seeking a consultant to help it develop a research park implementation strategy.
Locating the research park at Ray Winder Field will leave the Oak Forest Neighborhood undisturbed. There's no good reason why a stable neighborhood of hard working, law abiding, less affluent people of color, young families, and seniors should be displaced when Ray Winder Field can be acquired and converted into a research park without doing so.
City Hall has $22 million worth of leverage plus its zoning powers that can and should be used to influence CATPA to locate the research park at Ray Winder Field rather than disturb a stable neighborhood and further alienate persons of color and the less affluent. Let's call on Mayor Stodola, Manager Moore, and the City Directors, and CATPA members to do so.
I screwed up.
On Sept. 14, the Arkansas Times published a letter of mine in which I berated Sen. Mark Pryor for a mail flyer that I mistakenly thought came from his office. The flyer listed reasons why oil companies should be allowed to retain their government subsidies.
The flyer did not come from Senator Pryor's office.
This is the first stupid mistake I've made in 15 years of letter writing. I sincerely apologize to Senator Pryor. If there are any further amends I can make to him, I'd be happy to make them. This won't happen again.
More on McGehee
I am a successful, college-educated black man living in Little Rock. I've followed the McGehee story since it broke. I am embarrassed and disappointed in this young woman's claim of racism.
I graduated with a better G.P.A. than most of the A.P. honors student, and I didn't take not one honors class. I think Ms. Wimberly is missing the lessons that should be learned in her situation.
1. Race doesn't determine who is better at any particular thing, whether it be academics, sports, etc.
2. Life situations and circumstances should never factor in who should be honored with what, especially when you measure the effort put forth to achieve or accomplish something. Who knows what type of trials and tribulations the co-valedictorian is going through outside of school, home, family, etc? So, I don't buy into the teen mom factor.
3. Why is her lawsuit asking for $75,000? Factor in your circumstances at home and starting college, it seems like you are seeking financial relief from people out of revenge, or a trade off. You have to share the distinction of valedictorian, then you want money to make your life easier? I don't think so! That sounds like extortion!
To the people of McGehee, if this issue is something that bothers you as a community, there are better, smarter ways to make a point. And you can easily move from the environment to a better place and have a better quality of life, or fix where you live to make it lovable!
Your mission in life, Ms. Wimberly, is to educate teens not to have sex and to focus on their goals in life, not set an example by extorting people to get your way or to ease the compromise.
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