Monday, January 21, 2008

Manufacturing Consent

Did you catch the Northwest Arkansas Times fluff piece Saturday on the developers and their proposed SouthPass project? One sentence in Marsha Melnichak's near-editorial hype caught my attention: "For Fayetteville residents, that means the regional park they requested in the Parks and Recreation master plan of 2000 is closer to being past the discussion stage and on its way to getting official city consideration."

Take it from me, Marsha, that ain't right, and I have been taken to task for falling for that little line in the past. There are serious questions remaining about both health risks and financial liability related to the former landfill on the property. There are sprawl issues related to authorizing such a massive development west of I-540 and in the Greenland School District. More to the point, Marsha, there are serious ethical questions that are obvious even to your Chamber-friendly editorial board about how the city employees used our tax dollars to manufacture the appearance of public opinion in support of the regional sports complex.

Here's a link for the full Parks and Recreation Master Plan, and below is one citizen's characterization of the deal that was posted on this blog last month:

"PUBLIC input gathered during the master planning process indicated only limited interest in a community park (see pg 4.1 for the one exception). Of the 150+ comments offered during ten public meetings, only 2 or 3 of them ever mentioned the need for a multi-sports complex (see pg 4.11). Moreover, respondents in a community wide survey of over 1100 residents ranked neighborhood parks as the number one priority, followed by a trail network (#2) and senior center (#3). The priority ranking for a multi-sports complex was eight (see pg 4.21).

"The demand for a community park has been overstated and even
fabricated. Meanwhile, the Chamber of Cowbirds go tweet, tweet, tweet..."

Would city employees engineer such a charade? If so, was the public deception done to further their personal agenda or to help out the developers? Or is there a difference? Was it authorized by the mayor? Was the City Council aware that they were being duped? Let's think about that, and let's discuss it.

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