Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Connie Continues the Con
The Jordan Administration doesn't seem much different from the Coody Administration when it comes to parks for the people. At this week's Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, Jordan's parks director Connie Edmonston laid out a capital improvement plan that looks like it could have been drawn up on the back of a napkin by Dan Coody, John Nock, and Kit Williams. It is all about SouthPass and a few crumbs for everyone else.
A somewhat misleading headline in the Northwest Arkansas Times says on page one, "City Gets Deed for Southpass Park." The article states that the deed "was handed over to the city of Fayetteville in late July." Maybe so, but it had not been filed at the Washington County Courthouse by 4:30 today. If the City has a warranty deed for the 200 acres, why is Kit Williams sitting on it? There was no mention of whether the developers have paid the city the $1 million for park development as required by the sweetheart contract, so I think it is safe to assume they have not performed.
Anyway, the Parks and Recreation Empire has an annual budget of over well $5 million. The operating budget of $3.7 million comes mostly from the city's general revenues, and about $2.9 million a year from the HMR tax that goes for capital projects. Edmonston says that development of the regional park remains a top priority for the Parks Department, more important than community and neighborhood parks. That's not what I remember Jordan telling us back during the campaign, but nothing has changed.
For 2010, the Parks capital budget is less than $1.5 million, but more than two-thirds of that goes to the Southpass Regional Park, allocated $941,000 and ranked the Number One priority. By comparison, Wilson Park will get $110,000, Davis Park is allocated $50,000, Gulley Park will get $15,000, and Walker Park in the low income area of the city gets a big goose egg.
The 5-Year Capital Plan is equally disappointing. Walker Park gets nothing, and SouthPass Park swims in $4.9 million. Wilson Park gets $110,000, Lake Fayetteville gets $125,000, and Gulley Park in trendy Ward Three gets $735,000. No mention of those Heritage Parks that Jordan mentioned in his State of the City Address. You get the picture.
Nothing has changed, and nothing will change as long as Jordan abdicates responsibility to Connie Edmonston. Mayor Jordan should either get control of this department and put things right, or he should stop pretending.