Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Walton Arts Center Expansion
Yesterday was the deadline for proposals related to the expansion plans for the Walton Arts Center. Here's the weak proposal from the Bentonville-Bella Vista Chamber of Commerce, and here's the even more insulting one from the Rogers-Lowell Chamber of Commerce. Then there is the poor one from the Springdale Chamber of Commerce that brags about the availability of billboards, but at least they tried, unlike the smug drivel submitted by Bentonville and Rogers. There were also numerous suggestions from people wanting to sell their real estate.
The joint proposal from the City of Fayetteville and the University of Arkansas is awesome. Totally awesome. It presents a thoughtful and detailed narrative instead of the glib representations from the other applicants. It addresses each issue and provides both specific plans and helpful designs. It includes funding mechanisms for parking decks and theaters. It throws in bigtime concerts in Bud Walton Arena and Razorback Stadium. No other proposal can touch it, and the others should slink away in shame. However, if you want to hear the opinions of local residents who don't like anything about the current Walton Arts Center or the joint proposal for expansion in Fayetteville, drop by to read the comments on the Fayetteville Flyer, here and here.
Will the Fayetteville-University proposal be accepted, or will the Walton Arts Center Board decide to build the huge theater expansion project in what one local leader dubbed "a big field in a dry county"? We will soon know. We will know soon whether Peter Lane and the WAC Board were seriously seeking strong proposals or running a charade as cover for decisions already made elsewhere. We will know whether it is called the Walton Arts Center because it honored the role of Helen and Sam Walton among the founding forces of the Fayetteville institution, or whether it is called that because the Walton Family Foundation can wield its checkbook and demand that it be built in Benton County.
Either way, the Fayetteville-University proposal smokes them all on merit. Congratulations to Mayor Jordan and Chancellor Gearhart on an excellent proposal.