Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Sarah Lewis Gets It Right

Ward 4 Alderman Sarah Lewis said last night that she is worried the proposed cost share for the Park West development out northwest of town benefits developer Tracy Hoskins more than it does the city, and she wonders why the city should deviate from the Master Street Plan staff had worked hard to develop just to accommodate the developer. Not to worry or wonder, Sarah, because you got it right.

We have previously mentioned this proposed road to nowhere, and there was some rather spirited commentary, including a good articulation of his position by Tracy Hoskins. Not even the editorial writers at the Northwest Arkansas Times think this is a good idea, but it was favored by the previous mayor and was unanimously adopted by the city council's Street Committee this week.

Ward 3 Alderman Bobby Ferrell chairs the Street Committee and loves the idea, because he doesn't mind spending $2.1 million of the city bond money to build a big driveway to the commercial development that Hoskins promises to build within 15 years. Ward 1 Alderman Brenda Thiel and Ward 4 Alderman Shirley Lucas went along without a whimper.

Ward 2 Alderman Matthew Petty was the unpleasant surprise vote, and he will have some explaining to do to his constituents. He campaigned on a commitment to infill development and alternative transportation, then his first important vote is to ignore the Master Street Plan, ignore the will of the voters who supported the street bond issue, take away funds from the Garland Avenue boulevard with bike lanes in his ward, and spend the money to build infrastructure for a speculative commercial development out past I-540.

The Hoskins subsidy will be on the City Council agenda next Tuesday. There is still time for reason to prevail. Heck, there is even time for a groundswell of citizen support for the developer. Whatever your position, let your aldermen hear from you about this proposed boondoggle.

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