Thursday, February 28, 2008

Round One Goes to Jordan

Walt Eilers, Lioneld Jordan, and Jeff Koenig addressed transportation infrastructure issues at a Chamber of Cowbirds transportation committee meeting yesterday. Eilers and Koenig are members of the Cowbirds and have announced their candidacies for mayor, but there was general agreement that Alderman Jordan smoked them in their first joint appearance. He was more knowledgeable about transportation issues, gave specific answers instead of platitudes, and was a far more able public speaker.

As expected, Republican businessman Koenig said his first priorities would be better access to shopping at the CMN Business Park, a hollow promise from a man who led the fight against road impact fees to pay for sprawl and improved roads. Professional consultant Eilers said that transportation planning needs to look not only at alternate transportation systems but at the different ways people commute, and he seemed to think getting state government to appropriate general revenues to increase "turn back" of state revenues to cities instead of state programs would be a possible funding solution. A good plan but not realistic, because Governor Beebe is committed to repealing the rest of the sales tax on groceries, and that will reduce available state revenues for all state priorities such as public schools and higher education.

Vice Mayor Jordan, who is chairman of the Street Committee and has considerable experience, "
described a more specific plan to improve transportation in the city." He presented a proposal to develop a comprehensive economic corridor to "trap sales tax revenue in the city," and advocated boulevards that included green medians, trails, and sidewalks for safety and alternative transportation. He reiterated his support for transportation impact fees so growth would pay for the cost of growth. It was no contest, really.

On the location of Fayetteville High School, Jordan and Eilers both supported keeping the school in central Fayetteville for educational, environmental, and fiscal reasons. Republican businessman Koenig
supports the Cowbird plan for building a new school on a new site, regardless of infrastructure and transportation costs. He said earlier it would create new jobs. It would also help developers make more money.

Republican businessman Koenig told the Cowbirds what they wanted to hear. Consultant Eilers offered some valuable ideas from his prepared script. Vice Mayor Jordan presented a detailed plan that will work.

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