Saturday, May 31, 2008

Click the link to see the Sunday through Saturday schedule for June 1-7 on Fayetteville, Arkansas, government channel


June 1-7 schedule for government channel in Fayetteville, Arkansas

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette questions administrative take over of Government Channel

Replay of most recent Telecommunications Board meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. today at Cox Cable channel 16, known as City 16, in Fayetteville.

EDITORIALS : Shut up, she explained
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Northwest Edition
Posted on Saturday, May 31, 2008
URL: http://www.nwanews.com/adg/Editorial/227285/
LAYING DOWN fair rules for free

speech can cause government to

go bonkers. Such seems to be the case in Fayetteville, where the city administration has managed to shut down some public forums that have long had their place on the city’s Government Channel. A lot of the channel’s programming involves broadcasts of governmental meetings—a worthy undertaking in itself. But the channel has also produced public forums, in which members of the community discuss topics of interest that often involve controversy. After all, it’s Fayetteville, where a comment on the weather can start an argument.

What are some hot topics in Fayetteville these days ? Perhaps the future location of the high school. Or what’s going to become of the Walton Arts Center on Dickson Street.

Those subjects are getting a lot of talk in the papers, over the air, and in countless conversations in coffee shops and on street corners. But you won’t find them being discussed in forums on the Government Channel these days. The city’s would-be propaganda minister, Susan Thomas, has decided otherwise. The public forums have been dismantled.

Ms. Thomas’ actual title is public information officer. Right now she’s busy limiting public information. It seems she agrees with the latest word from the city attorney. Kit Williams has opined that the forums on the Government Channel might be an illegal use of the channel. So Susan Thomas now has a rationale for killing the forums. Or as she put it in pure doublespeak, she didn’t really cancel the forums. She just announced that planning them had been stopped. Another distinction without a difference. Censors have a million of ’em.

The decision bothered the chairman of the city’s Telecommunications Board, which was originally created to put a buffer between the channel and an overzealous city administration. Richard Drake, the board’s chairman, was stunned to hear that the city had stopped planning the forums—without checking with the board. There was no need, according to Susan Thomas. The city council, she said, makes policy decisions on matters like public forums.

Not so fast there, Ms. Thomas. Your decision to stop planning for the forums amounts to setting policy. Which is not your prerogative.

This is just the latest flare-up between the city’s administration and the Government Channel. Earlier, the city fired its cable administrator, Marvin Hilton, for reasons that have yet to be adequately explained. At the latest meeting of the Telecommunications Board, Ms. Thomas presented the administrator’s report that used to be given by Mr. Hilton. And she said she expected to continue giving the report at future meetings. The term for it is power grab.

What’s going on here ? Why the city administrator’s sudden interest in programming on the Government Channel ? And why, after all these years, are the public forums on the channel deemed illegal ? These issue forums have long been done remarkably well. They’re balanced. Every side is heard.

One suggestion has been to move the forums to the community access channel. That channel would probably do a good job on the forums. But there’s no requirement on the community access channel that all sides be heard. A producer could decide to leave out one or more of the sides. That would be a step down from the practice long used by the Government Channel.

The bigger concern is that the administration’s latest intrusions open the door to further meddling in programming on the Government Channel. Some future administration might be inclined to tamper with the policies even more. The programming could become just what it was designed not to be: a tool to put the current administration in the most favorable light.

Nancy Allen, an alderman, wants the city council to look into this flap over the Government Channel. It’s a good idea. Maybe the city council can get to the bottom of the administration’s growing interest in what can and cannot be said in public forums on the channel.

We’d especially like to hear something unequivocal from Dan Coody, the mayor. He’s notoriously touchy about public information that doesn’t come out the way he thinks it should. What’s his role in this flap ? Does he support undermining the independence of the Telecommunications Board ? And Susan Thomas’ fiddling with programming ? Good questions. Answers are needed.

The board also deserves to know where it stands with this administration. Does the board set policy for the Government Channel, or is the board just there to do the bidding of others—in this case, the city administration ?

The public forums on the Government Channel have been a good source of information about various topics of community interest. To undermine that success—for whatever reason—is a mistake. The city council needs to get to the bottom of this. Soon. Before silence becomes standard operating procedure. Even in once free-speaking Fayetteville.

Copyright © 2001-2008 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc. All rights reserved. Contact: webmaster@nwanews.com

Good editorial on Senior Center in Northwest Arkansas Times on May 31, 2008

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Good editorial on Senior Center in Northwest Arkansas Times on May 31, 2008
http://www.nwanews.com/nwat/Editorial/65739
Times Editorial : Senior moments
Northwest Arkansas Times
Posted on Saturday, May 31, 2008
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Senior citizens often get a bad rap in America. Popular sitcoms like "Seinfeld "or "The Simpsons"portray old folks as feeble, and maybe even a little crazy. Sure, we titter - but the truth is that we're looking at ourselves a couple of decades down the line (if we're lucky enough to get there at all ). Laugh at your own expense.

Which is a way of saying that our elders deserve our respect. They are, after all, the folks who came before us. Everything today's 20-, 30-, 40- and 50-somethings believe to be so, so important, the older generation was taking care of years ago. The folks who today reside in nursing homes and retirement villages helped make the United States into the superpower it is today. Everywhere we turn, we owe them. So it behooves us to listen to them. Regardless of being polite, doing so is the right thing to do.

Having said all that, the strife apparent at the Fayetteville Senior Center has us scratching our heads. A May 6 get-together between clients at the center and officials charged with operating the facility nearly brought some key figures to blows. Next came reports that the Fayetteville Senior Center's "site council"was being reorganized, which only frustrated some elderly clients further still. And then we hear a couple weeks ago that a handful of regular visitors just might be banned unless they promise not to gossip and engage in other disruptive behavior.

Just take a look at this incomplete list of complaints to get an idea of what's being alleged these days: slamming doors, rattling windows, pettiness, rudeness, lying, being pushed around, being ignored, being spied on, staff treating seniors like kindergartners, seniors'objections to supplying tea and coffee, white boards instead of bulletin boards, questions over who gets to open the suggestion box...

Besides the war of words that's broken out between Kaye Curtis, director of senior services for the Northwest Arkansas Economic Development District Inc., and a handful of elderly who resent her "meddling," one wonders what's going on at the Fayetteville Senior Center that's leading to so many hurt feelings and so much disruption.

Fayetteville's Stella Farrar - one of the individuals receiving letters regarding their supposed disruptive behavior - had this to say to the Northwest Arkansas Times: "It's a beautiful center, but we don't feel like it's a friendly home environment with all the harassment, abuse and stalking we have to encounter. "Strong language. Perhaps too strong. But indicative of some ongoing issues.

Listen, in a world of an Iraq war and debates over new high schools and peace in the Middle East, what happens at one senior center doesn't seem to amount to much. But for a lot of the people in the sunset of their lives, these senior centers become vitally important links to their community, to their continued physical and mental health, and to their need to socialize.

And the folks who run the senior centers should (and we believe do ) want the senior citizens to feel exactly that way about their senior center.

What has bothered us is the amount of blame paid staff members have appeared to lay at the feet of disgruntled senior citizens for the disruptions at the Fayetteville center. That, it seems, is to be an expected part of dealing with elderly folks, and it seems the folks contracted to operate senior centers would be better prepared to effectively engage their clients in productive discourse.

To be sure, some pettiness can be expected, but our senior citizens deserve to be treated with the utmost care and respect. That doesn't mean their complaints have to be accepted at face value - some are clearly personal conflicts - but it does mean the people hired to make the senior centers work must find ways to make them work for the senior citizens who come through the door.

The job of working together with the seniors to find solutions and smooth relations belongs to the center director, staff and the leadership of the organization hired to administer the programs. They must take responsibility for taking care of these concerns.

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Carrying capacity of Boston Mountains exceeded long ago

Can anyone explain this mad dash to sell the high school to the college and have both institutions spend millions of taxpayer dollars for something that is not needed?

Who will profit, whose ego will expand?

Following the money is the hard part.

Following the garbage from growth is the easy part. Right now, a lot is being shipped to eastern Oklahoma for burial in landfills that no more should exist there than in Northwest Arkansas. Northwest Arkansas was "built-out" decades ago but the big egos and the big bucks keep coming to make the area less and less sustainable (livable) every day.

Dedicated environmentalists are not the ones who are anti-growth. They are only the realists who sound the warning. Nature and the creator limited carrying capacity. The logical limits of population growth were set by forces outside our control. Pointing out those limits is the duty of people who pay enough attention to understand reality.

A popular saying is that cities must grow or die. The reality of cities may actually be the opposite. If their leaders refuse to acknowledge the logical and safe limits of their growth, cities become unlivable and finally die.

Soil and water and air sustain life. Not buildings and not technology. A denser population can only reduce freedom and increase fear and crime and poverty. The only people who can comfortably advocate endless growth are people who are confident that they will not have to endure the discomforts it will bring. And how many can guarantee that privilege even to themselves?

The Morning News: UA still interested in buying FHS

University 'Still Interested' In High School Property
Fayetteville district's offer to sell to get serious look
Last updated Friday, May 30, 2008 7:18 PM CDT in News
By Rose Ann Pearce
The Morning News
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FAYETTEVILLE - University of Arkansas administrators have something to consider now that the Fayetteville School Board placed a "for sale" sign on Fayetteville High School.

For months, the university's position has been the matter would be considered in depth if the School Board decided to sell the school and 40-acre campus, next door to the university.

"This is something we're still interested in," said Tysen Kendig, associate vice chancellor for university relations. "This formalizes the process on our end."

Still, Kendig noted, the university will have to study the offer further, including the suggested purchase price of $59 million.

The Fayetteville School Board voted 6-1 Thursday to offer to sell the high school campus to the university and authorized Superintendent Bobby New to begin negotiations to purchase 73 acres on Morningside Drive as a new high school site.

The Board of Trustees meets Thursday at the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute on Petit Jean Mountain, but Kendig did not know if the high school purchase was or would be on the agenda.


At least two Northwest Arkansas trustees - Chairman Jim Lindsey and member John Tyson - said in recent months the university should buy the high school property for future growth.

Attempts to reach Lindsey and Tyson were unsuccessful Friday afternoon. Jim von Gremp of Bentonville, the third trustee from Northwest Arkansas, was out of town Friday and not expected to return until late night.

"It's really too early to speculate on what our position will be," Kendig said Friday morning, noting at that time the School Board decision had only been made hours earlier.

The $59 million price tag, which likely will be a negotiating point, is higher than the university's appraisal of the property. A school district appraisal, completed nearly a year ago, listed the value at about $62.2 million, while the university's appraisal valued the property at $56.5 million.

Chancellor John White, Chancellor-elect Dave Gearhart, college deans and department heads toured the campus in February. Officials at the time said acquisition of that much land at once is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Tyson said such an acquisition would help the university grow to its goal of 22,000 students.

"The university is the only really big business in Fayetteville. This creates an opportunity for the business to grow," he said while touring the campus with the university delegation.

The terms and conditions of any sales contract will have to be approved by the School Board.

Not everyone agrees relocating the high school is the best idea.

Build Smart, a grassroots organization that opposes moving the high school, issued a news release Friday noting the school district will forfeit "as much as $340,000" a year in property taxes if the school is moved. The news release states Build Smart calculations are based on data provided by the school district, Fayetteville and the Washington County Assessor.

The sale of the high school would be a tax-exempt transaction since neither the school district or the university pay property taxes on their real estate holdings.


At A Glance


Fayetteville High School

Opened: 1952

Square Feet: 312,932 square feet

Additions: 1966, 1993, 2001 (Bates Annex)

Major Renovations: 2000 - lighting, flooring, heating-air conditioning system, library upgrade, office upgrade.

Other Campus facilities on the site: Fitness center, administrative annex, indoor baseball facility in what was a former Boys & Girls Club; McClinton Administration Building; Ray Adams Leadership Center, the former Westside Elementary School; Harmon Field and Bulldog Baseball Field.

Source: Staff Report

Site Credits

All content © The Morning News. Unauthorized distribution prohibited.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Morning News: FHS for sale

For Sale: One High School
Fayetteville Board Offers Campus To University Of Arkansas For $59 Million; Sets Deadline
LAST UPDATED THURSDAY, MAY 29, 2008 9:37 PM CDT IN NEWS
By Rose Ann Pearce
The Morning News
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FAYETTEVILLE -- Fayetteville High School is for sale.

That is, it's for sale if the University of Arkansas wants to buy the 40-acre campus for $59 million.

But the university will have to move quickly. The Fayetteville School District wants to know the university's interest by July 1.

At the same time, the Fayetteville School Board on Thursday authorized Superintendent Bobby New to explore the purchase of a 73-acre site on Morningside Drive.

Neither action means the high school will be sold and the school will be moved to the Morningside Drive site as recommended by the Future of Fayetteville High School Select Committee II last month.

The action does set into motion a movement off high center.
"We're floundering," said John Delap, a school board member who made the motion to approve a recommendation by New to offer to sell the high school property to the university.

"We've been playing the 'what if?' game for the 18 months I've been on the board," Delap said, saying the recommendation was a way to determine the seriousness of the university's interest in the property. "This will be the most complicated real estate process, if it happens, that you can imagine."

School Board member Becky Purcell cast the lone dissenting vote because the $59 million pricetag is below what the property is worth to the school district.

"This price is way under what this property is worth," Purcell said. She attaches a value of $85 million to the property, taking into account a replacement value of buildings and facilities of $45 million and $40 million for the land.

An appraisal, completed last year by the school district, places the value at $62 million.

A similar appraisal done by the university sets the value at about $56 million.

"This site is adequately serving our needs," Purcell said, referring to the current high school. "We are not in a position that we need to sell," she added, pointing to academic achievements that occur in the building.

There was no immediate reaction from university officials who learned of New's recommendation last week. A spokesman for the university said at the time the recommendation would be considered.

The university Board of Trustees is scheduled to meet next Thursday and Friday at the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute on Petit Jean Mountain, at which time the purchase of the high school property could be discussed.

If the university indicates its interest in purchasing the high school campus by the July 1 deadline, the process then moves into a stage in which terms and conditions of the sale will be negotiated. The School Board will have to approve any negotiation terms and conditions.

"I anticipate this conversation with the university won't happen overnight," New said. "We have to begin this journey with the university tonight ... every detail, every comma, will come to the board."

"You won't have a valid contract until both parties sign," said Rudy Moore Jr., the board's attorney.

Such a real estate deal would be the largest ever negotiated by the school district and the university.

If the university says no to any deal -- seen as unlikely -- the effort to move the high school to a new site is stymied and any negotiation for the purchase of the Morningside property is halted.

"I won't pursue purchase (of Morningside) until funding is in place," New said.

The Morningside property has been priced at $5 million, said Sally Rose, one of the owners of the property. Rose attended Thursday's meeting with other family members.

The property is not listed for sale at the current time since a deal fell through earlier this year.

At A Glance


Superintendent Search

The Fayetteville School Board received three proposals from search firms to conduct a national search for a new superintendent. The job was declined this month by Bryant Superintendent Richard Abernathy.

School Board President Steve Percival said the proposals will be reviewed and representatives of the three firms likely will be asked to visit with School Board members before a firm is hired.

Proposals were received from Ray and Associates of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; McPherson and Jacobson, Omaha, Neb.; and Hazard Young Attea and Associates of Plainview, Ill.

Superintendent Bobby New plans to retire at the end of the 2008-09 school year.

Source: Staff Report

City Attorney's advice to City Council, Fayetteville city administration and Telecom board on forums on government channel

Please click on images to ENLARGE for easy reading:



INSECT on yellow flower

Please click on images to ENLAGE.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

While pondering what motivated Austin Rowser, the engineer planning the Hill Place project, to write what he did, please scroll down the right side of this page to "Links of Interest" and click on the link to the Town Branch Neighborhood blog to see some photos of one of the houses that Austin notes were built too close to the overflow area of the Town Branch (unless he is really talking about the so-called College Branch, which is an upland tributary of the Town Branch of the West Fork of the White River. College Branch brings water from Markham Hill to the UA campus where it joins the so-called Mullins Creek, which brings water from north of Maple Street and flows underground to join the College Branch in forming the main Town Branch at Leroy Pond, the street between Bud Walton Arena and the site of the old Carlson Terrace student apartments).
Please click on images to ENLARGE. Scroll down to see recent FEMA map after 30 acres was cleared for Aspen Ridge project where proposed HIl Place project would appear. Scroll further to see photos of the area before wetland overflow area east of the Town Branch was cleared and filled with non-absorbent material. The word TOWN on the USGS map appears on the part of the stream running between South Ellis Avenue and South Van Buren Avenue.


Strangely, Austin doesn't blame the university for building in that part of the watershed and eliminating any chance of water soaking up there. Is he afraid his engineering degree would be nullified? Anyway, Sullins' house and others downstream on the Town Branch between Ellis and Van Buren streets were built long before the bulk of athletic facilities forced the water into pipes and speeded its flow to Sixth Street, Eleventh Street and Fifteenth Street. Mostly, the houses were built on higher ground, but "the end result" apparently wasn't "completely predictable" to everyone who bought a lot and built a house 50 or more years ago.
If anyone was able to predict the flooding and had the responsibility to prevent it, it would have to have been the engineers planning projects on the campus. Now Austin Rowser has the ability to predict what will happen if his project doesn't retain a lot more water on site than current plans suggest.

Please read and compare and comment. I will add my comments soon on Austin's letter about Fran's column


Fran Alexander sums up biggest problem with Aspen Ridge/Hill Place site in the May 19, 2008, Northwest Arkansas Times


"Fayetteville is long overdue in identifying what functions the different types of land and soil within our urban area are performing and then making that information really matter in urban planning.
Generally we do not think "big picture "as a community in the physical sense, as a whole unit that will be seriously affected by the digging, filling, draining, dredging, scraping and building. We deflect discussions about land function because it is a really hot issue with property owners who want to utilize what they own in any way they desire, no matter how that use may impact neighbors or the town's taxpayers. And we certainly maintain a state of denial when it comes to what lies beneath the land.
A favorite word in city government, infrastructure, needs to be applied more broadly than for just defining roads, sewers, pipelines, etc. so that natural systems are recognized and accorded their importance in the physical place where we all live, and which is molded by our actions.
We spend most of our public decision-making at the planning commission and city council levels, where longterm planning like the 2025 City Plan is referenced regularly.
Often discussions that begin about land use and suitability wind up being about how our city plan calls for infill to avoid urban sprawl, as if these two topics were about the same thing. They are not. One is about the reality of what we have physically available in Fayetteville both above and below ground level. Discussing what we want to build has traditionally been more about design and scope than what the land can tolerate and still deliver to humans in its natural role in the environment. We need to get our heads and actions straight on these two very different, yet intertwined, issues."
Fran Alexander

Northwest Arkansas Times headline on Austin Rowser's letter attacking Fran Alexander, her column and the people who have built homes in the watershed in the past:

False environmentalism strikes again

Rowser's letter as it appeared in the May 25, 2008, Northwest Arkansas Times.
As a professional engineer and active community planner, I always find it interesting to read articles like Fran Alexander's "What Lies Beneath. "I have to admire the heartfelt sincerity and concern expressed by Ms. Alexander, but I am left dumbfounded by her ignorance and lack of knowledge or objective research on the topic of development in low areas.

This article is merely the musings of a sentimental emotionalist. Ms. Alexander attempts to assign human qualities to water; this could not be further from fact. Water is not "sneaky"; it obeys set laws from which it cannot deviate. Water has no motives, no personality, no malice, no love, no feelings; nothing but hydrogen and oxygen bound together and imprisoned by the laws of physics. The end result is completely predictable.

Lay people like Fran Alexander don't know the rules; lack of knowledge results in fear of the unknown. She claims that the area of the Hill Place development (formerly Aspen Ridge ) used to be a "sponge"and that the area recharged groundwater. However, it is well documented that the area is (and was prior to the Aspen Ridge debacle ) low-permeability clay and silt soil with shallow shale bedrock. These are very poor conditions for the benefits described in her article. The biggest problem with the area is not the current development (or even Aspen Ridge, for that matter ). It is the past development; the homes built in the past 100 years that are too close to College Branch and / or too low relative to the flood elevation.

Sadly, many of these property owners did not account for stream bank erosion, a natural process that existed eons before the first developer turned the first golden shovel. That is a fact; it is cold, harsh and insensitive, but a fact nonetheless.

Additionally, there are laws that must be followed to build in floodplain areas; Hill Place will be built in accordance with those laws and as such, will not impact downstream properties that are also built in accordance with the laws, both of the city of Fayetteville and of common sense. It's always easy to blame the developer because he's the new kid on the block. It's very sad to see the true motives of anti-growth sentiment get camouflaged by a false environmentalism.
Austin E. Rowser
Fayetteville

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Brooks Bayou an hour after Sunday's rain ended

Please click on image to ENLARGE.

Austin disagrees with Fran's column

False environmentalism strikes again

As a professional engineer and active community planner, I always find it interesting to read articles like Fran Alexander's "What Lies Beneath. "I have to admire the heartfelt sincerity and concern expressed by Ms. Alexander, but I am left dumbfounded by her ignorance and lack of knowledge or objective research on the topic of development in low areas.

This article is merely the musings of a sentimental emotionalist. Ms. Alexander attempts to assign human qualities to water; this could not be further from fact. Water is not "sneaky"; it obeys set laws from which it cannot deviate. Water has no motives, no personality, no malice, no love, no feelings; nothing but hydrogen and oxygen bound together and imprisoned by the laws of physics. The end result is completely predictable.

Lay people like Fran Alexander don't know the rules; lack of knowledge results in fear of the unknown. She claims that the area of the Hill Place development (formerly Aspen Ridge ) used to be a "sponge"and that the area recharged groundwater. However, it is well documented that the area is (and was prior to the Aspen Ridge debacle ) low-permeability clay and silt soil with shallow shale bedrock. These are very poor conditions for the benefits described in her article. The biggest problem with the area is not the current development (or even Aspen Ridge, for that matter ). It is the past development; the homes built in the past 100 years that are too close to College Branch and / or too low relative to the flood elevation.

Sadly, many of these property owners did not account for stream bank erosion, a natural process that existed eons before the first developer turned the first golden shovel. That is a fact; it is cold, harsh and insensitive, but a fact nonetheless.

Additionally, there are laws that must be followed to build in floodplain areas; Hill Place will be built in accordance with those laws and as such, will not impact downstream properties that are also built in accordance with the laws, both of the city of Fayetteville and of common sense. It's always easy to blame the developer because he's the new kid on the block. It's very sad to see the true motives of anti-growth sentiment get camouflaged by a false environmentalism.
Austin E. Rowser
Fayetteville

Magnolia moment

Please click on image to enlarge lone magnolia blossom on East South Street in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Northwest Arkansas Times' series on management problems at Senior Center


Senior Center visitors trying to solve problems



Senior Center strife between seniors, new management



Times investigates disbanding of senior site council


For more senor-center information place click the link:

Senior Center information updated regularly by Friends of Fayetteville Senior Center

Friday, May 23, 2008

High School For Sale, says The Morning News' May 24 edition

The Morning News

Local News for Northwest Arkansas


New To Recommend Sale Of Campus

By Rose Ann Pearce
The Morning News
FAYETTEVILLE - An offer to sell the Fayetteville High School campus to the University of Arkansas for $59 million may be on the table if the Fayetteville School Board approves Thursday.

The recommendation by Superintendent Bobby New could lead to more detailed negotiation between the school district and the university in what could be a real estate transaction of historic proportion for both entities.

The recommendation doesn't bind the school board to a sale, nor does it address where the high school might move if the university decides it wants to buy the property.

Chancellor-elect Dave Gearhart said the recommendation "probably is what we need" to further consider buying the 40-acre high school campus.

The university's position has been one of wait and see until the school board decided to sell the property. Chancellor John White, Gearhart and a delegation of university department chairs toured the high school complex in February.

"We'll take it very seriously," Gearhart said, noting there are many details that need to be ironed out. He plans to confer with B. Alan Sugg, University of Arkansas System president, and other officials.

The purchase could come up during the next Board of Trustees meeting June 6 at the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute on Petit Jean Mountain. A response to the school board likely would come after that.

School board member Tim Kring said Friday he continues to be more concerned about terms and conditions beyond the recommendation.

"This puts in writing what we said several months ago," Kring said. "It's a formalization awaiting an offer with terms and conditions from the university."

Kring said he can't consider the sale of the high school until the university makes an offer on the property.

New and Gearhart emphasized the complexity of any terms or conditions that would be part of any sale agreement.

"This could be the first sale (in Arkansas) of its kind according to the Department of Education," New said. He said school district officials have discussed a possible sale to determine the impact it could have on the district's revenue stream.

"Without a sale, our options are extremely limited," New said of building a new high school.

Location is a separate issue and should be dealt with outside the scope of the recommendation, New said.

"I've listened to the dialogue and to the Select II committee," he said. "I'm supporting the recommendation made by a committee that worked tirelessly."

Asked if the district would abandon any plans for a site it owns on Deane Solomon Road, New responded, "I haven't ruled out any property but we have a recommendation and I'm respectful of that."

If the high school property is sold, district patrons will be asked to approve an increase in their tax rate although what the increase might be remains undetermined.

A millage election could be called in the next 12 months. The minimum request probably will be for 2.1 mills, which the district has lost in the last few years as a result of rollbacks required by the Arkansas Constitution.

The School Board will receive New's recommendation at its meeting at 5 p.m. Thursday.

FAST FACTS

Superintendent's Recommendation

Superintendent Bobby New plans to make this recommendation to the Fayetteville School Board next week:

"The administration recommends that the Fayetteville Board of Education offers to sell to the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, approximately 40 acres generally know as Fayetteville High School, the administration buildings and the sports facilities, for the sum of $59 million and, further, that this offer shall expire July 1, 2008, with terms and conditions of the contract with the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, to be approved by the Fayetteville Board of Education."

Source: Staff Report

Drake recommends caution on policy changes at City 16

 
Chairman says don’t change the channel
BY MARSHA L. MELNICHAK Northwest Arkansas Times
Posted on Friday, May 23, 2008
URL: http://www.nwanews.com/nwat/News/65451

A cessation in planning for two forum discussions on Fayetteville’s Government Channel opens the door to too much government control of that channel’s content, the chairman of the Telecommunications Board said Thursday.
“ I don’t think (city staff ) realize they can create a situation in which some loony tunes administration might come in here which might want to just gut the Government Channel of all kinds of things, ” Richard Drake said as he chaired the panel’s regular meeting at the City Administration Building.
Planning for forums about the location of Fayetteville High School and the future of the Walton Arts Center were stopped as Mayor Dan Coody’s administration and City Attorney Kit Williams expressed discomfort with the Government Channel’s use for such televised issuesbased discussions in effect being sponsored by the city.
For Drake and others, it is the role and function of the Government Channel that is in question, and concerns about city government influencing Government Channel programming.
“ The Telecom Board was specifically set up to buffer the channels from the city, ” said Jim Bemis of Fayetteville, a frequent board meeting visitor and telecommunications advocate.
Ironically, it was on an April 30 forum on the Government Channel that City Attorney Kit Williams identified issues about what he sees as the illegality of public forums being produced on the Government Channel. Such forums to discuss issues ranging from the state’s Freedom of Information Act to contemporary community issues have taken place for years.
Susan Thomas, the city’s public information officer and policy advisor, explained at the Telecommunications Board meeting Thursday that plans for all issue forums were stopped following Williams ’ advice.
“ So we’ve actually canceled these without waiting for any sort of policy decision from the Telecom Board ?” Drake asked Thomas.
“ It was very clear to me, from the city attorney, that we were doing something we knew we shouldn’t do, and we should stop immediately, ” answered Thomas.
She said the forums weren’t canceled, but the planning was stopped. It is up to the City Council to make the policy decision about the forums, Thomas said.
Drake argued that Wil- liams and Thomas had set policy by stopping the planning because that in turn stopped the forums.
“ They’re creating a situation, they’re making it possible for any city administration coming down the road to change the rules as it suits them, ” Drake said.
Bemis brought a list of complaints and requests related to the forums to Telecom meeting. He was among those who requested the forum on issues forums, and one of his requests Thursday was to continue discussion of those issues and questions. Another was to allow production of the two forums that were in the planning stages.
He also said he wants a public discussion about restaffing for the Public Education and Government channels, including further efforts related to changing policies and procedures. The city recently fired Cable Administrator Marvin Hilton.
Once he gets a formal response, he intends to appeal the decision to stop the forums to the City Council.
Before that, Ward 2 ’s Nancy Allen has asked that the topic be discussed at the next council agenda session. In the meantime, Drake said he has plans to start requesting that past issue forums be played on the Government Channel.
Thomas gave the cable administrator’s report and indicated she would be doing so in the future.
In the past, that report was given by Hilton.
Thomas said that while no final decisions had been made, it was likely that employee Ric Delahoussaye will be named immediate supervisor and will handle day-to-day operations of the cable administration office.
She said she is taking employees comments to heart and taking a team approach to restructuring the duties of the department.
Thomas said they will not refill Hilton’s position for at least the remainder of this year.
Copyright © 2001-2008 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc. All rights reserved. Contact: webmaster@nwanews.com

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Why we not have?????? Simsbury, Conn., has commission to protect wetland, watershed

Conservation Commission - 09/07/04

CONSERVATION COMMISSION/INLAND WETLAND
AND WATERCOURSE AGENCY
REGULAR MEETING-TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 7, 2004
SIMSBURY TOWN OFFICES- 7:30P.M.- MAIN MEETING ROOM


CALL TO ORDER
Chairman Howard Beach, Jr. called the Meeting of the Conservation Commission/Inland Wetland and Watercourse Agency to order at 7:30 P.M. in the Main Meeting Room at Simsbury Town Hall. The following members were present: Margery Winters, Richard Miller, William Nowak, Thomas Sharpless, Christopher Ursini, and Andrew Bucknam.


APPOINTMENT OF ALTERNATES
None


PRESENTATION (S) AND DISCUSSION AND POSSIBLE VOTE

A. Application of Kevin and Mary Jo Crimmins, Owners, for an Inland Wetland Permit to construct a one-car garage within the regulated area on property at 32 Walker Drive.

Mr. Kevin Crimmins was present to address the board. They wish to construct a 16-foot one-car garage addition within the 100-foot upland review area. The structure will be approximately 45 feet from the watercourse, and they are proposing installing silt fencing during construction and stabilize with seed upon completion. They propose doing this in October or in the spring. Mr. Crimmins was also before the board in June for the approval of a pool.

Chairman Beach asked about the level of the area. Mr. Crimmins stated that the area is very level. They might have to raise the floor a few inches to match the level of the other floor, but will not change the grade at all.

Chairman Beach asked about material being used. Mr. Crimmins said that they will be digging up topsoil, which he will then use in other parts of the yard to even out.

Chairman Beach asked about the change to the driveway with this addition. Mr. Crimmins stated they will be adding an apron only.

Commissioner Bucknam asked if the watercourse would be described as a low area that gets wet or is there any kind of a stream. Mr. Crimmins answered that it was a low area 20 years ago, when the property next door added a garage and buried the section between the two properties from the road back about 60-80 feet. There is no wetland that is exposed. It is a depression in the ground that is wet in the spring and wet after a heavy rain.

Commissioner Nowak commented that the disturbance then consists primarily of digging a footing a putting a foundation on top of that.

Commissioner Nowak asked why this wasn’t proposed in July with the proposal for the swimming pool. Mr. Crimmins answered that they weren’t sure if they could afford to do both projects.

A motion was made by Commissioner Sharpless that this is a regulated activity by reason of removal of material from the construction site in the upland review area.
The motion was seconded by Commissioner Miller, and carried unanimously.

A motion was made by Commissioner Sharpless that this is a significant activity, by reason that the activity has potential to cause siltation to a wetland.
The motion was seconded by Commissioner Miller, and carried unanimously.

A motion was made by Commissioner Sharpless that a public hearing is not required, as there has not been any indication of public interest.
The motion was seconded by Commissioner Miller, and carried unanimously.

A motion was made by Commissioner Sharpless to grant a permit for the proposed activity with the understanding that town be notified at least 3 days before the proposed activity is to commence so someone can check out the site before the digging can commence.
The motion was seconded by Commissioner Miller, and carried unanimously.


PUBLIC HEARING, DISCUSSION AND POSSIBLE VOTE

A. Application of Ensign –Bickford Realty Corporation for an Inland Wetland Permit for regulated activities associated with the proposed development of 182 homes within the Powder Forest at Bushy Hill and Stratton Brook Road. (continued from 7/20/04 meeting)

Mr. Donahue was present to address the Commission and introduce the presenters.
He stated that along with permits from the Wetland Commission, they are seeking permits from other boards; a zone change to allow a village cluster, a subdivision of the parcel into a single parcel, and site plan approval. On September 20, 2004, there will be a joint public hearing on this application with zoning and planning. Since last before the commission, they have received enthusiastic approval for the plan from the design-review board.

Michael Klein presented the wildlife corridor information.
Both flora and fauna at the site were looked at, and they identified no state-listed species present. The site has the potential to support and does support some forest interior birds.

Time was spent looking at the reptile and amphibian populations at the site because a report through the natural diversity database found eastern box turtle in the area in addition to the presence or absence of mole salamanders and wood frogs, considered vernal pool indicators. He explained that since the natural diversity database showed evidence of box turtle in the area, a visual search was done, but none were found. There are some isolated repressional wetlands on the site. They did not find any box turtles or mole salamanders at the site. The cluster of the three wetlands supported nothing in the way of frogs and salamanders. The semi-permanent pond does support wood frogs and although they are listed as a vernal pool indicator species, they also breed in many other places. He noted that as for the larger mammals, this patch of habitat is not large enough to support the more wide ranging species like bobcat.

A function and value assessment, broken down in three areas, was done for the wetland. The cluster of small depressional wetland areas is considered low to moderate in quality value. The large significant 12-½ acre wetland area is considered moderate- to high-value quality, however it is not considered high quality fish habitat. The semi-permanent pool does provide amphibian-breeding habitat, and it is valued as moderate-quality value.

Mr. Klein stated that in essence there are indirect impacts to the site, which are related to either construction, or the long-term change in land use of the site. He also noted that there is extensive use of best-management and low-impact development practices that have been incorporated into the plans. For example, rather than a traditional centralized stormwater collection and management system, they have a stormwater management system whereby 15 separate water disbursement areas are used to minimize the use of collection systems to get the water into the ground. The indirect impact to the wildlife habitat will be minimized by limiting development in the vicinity of the semi-permanent pond. Per a recommendation by the commission, they will be removing some of the silt fencing to allow migration coming in and out of the pond.

On the plans, he showed the open space on the site, surrounding properties, and locations of buffer zones for access into and out of the wetland system. He stated that the main concern during the site walk seemed to be with how the larger mammals (deer, bobcat, and bears) will access the space. He showed on the plan where the linkages are so that these mammals are able to move through.

Chairman Beach praised Mr. Klein on his effective job of giving a predevelopment evaluation of the three wetland areas. He asked if Mr. Klein could sum up the postdevelopment value of the wetland, in terms of general wildlife. He also asked him to address the apparent fragmentation of the areas. Mr. Klein explained that the functional evaluation methods are not designed as an impact assessment tool, they are designed as a resource tool. He did say that roads do not deter larger mammals, and that he does not see a dramatic alteration of the wetland-dependant wildlife. Mr. Klein said they try to focus on species of conservation concern as opposed to those that are fairly common.
Chairman Beach noted that other species should be focused on as well, lest they also become species of concern.

Chairman Beach complemented the applicant on the systems put in place (stormwater catch basins, swales etc.) to keep the nutrients away from Hazel Meadow Pond. He likes the fact that they provide swales for bio-remediation.

There was a discussion surrounding the vernal pool and the plants currently growing around it. Mr. Klein stated that hydrologically it is a semi-permanent pond, but it has some vernal pool-like functions in that it provides breeding habitat for wood frogs.

Chairman Beach discussed the bio-diversity study, stating it shows about what the commission is concerned and asked if the walking trail near the vernal pool could be moved. Mr. Ferrero stated that it is an existing path.

Commissioner Miller asked about the invasive plantings. Mr. Klein said the fragmites, which are near the wetland, could cause much damage to it, and will be cut out and the area and the area mowed. The tree of heaven will receive two applications of non-invasive, hand-applied herbicide to remove it. The herbicide will be applied during a non-windy day so as to have minimal drift potential.

The commission voiced concern regarding the closeness of Hazel Meadow Pond and unit/lawn development along its boundary. Chairman Beach asked if there will be enough bio-remediation in the swale to neutralize nutrients in the water before being introduced into the brook, what with the number of units that back up to the area. He also wanted to know about the turf-management system being used. Mr. Ferrero said that it is a small watershed because all of the roots are being removed, and he believes that the swale will be high enough. Mr. Klein stated that he doesn’t anticipate that any products will be used within the swales themselves. Mr. Donahue explained that one company will manage the units’ yards and therefore they will not have the owners themselves caring for the yards/grass.

Chairman Beach asked about the distance between the cutting line and the property line. It was explained that there is a 40-foot building setback and the swale is within that 40 feet.
Chairman Beach said that even small amounts of nutrients can devastate the ecosystem, and asked if there could be a 75- to100-foot no-cut zone beyond the property line since there is very little vegetation around the area. Mr. Ferrero stated that they are not encroaching upon the 100-foot buffer zone within Hazel Meadow Pond.

Commissioner Nowak asked about the wildlife corridor to the west side on Bushy Hill. He asked where the wildlife corridor would be for smaller wildlife such as turkeys, etc.
Mr. Klein answered that the area near Bushy Hill is residential development and that, if small wildlife can move through that area, they will be able to move through the corridor Mr. Nowak speaks about. He stated that it is surprising how tolerant many of the species have become. Mr. Nowak stated that the proposed units are much closer together (18-25 feet apart) than the 1+ acre residential houses where it is easier for animals to navigate. Mr. Klein answered that the property provides more open space. Chairman Beach noted that most of the open space is wetland and couldn’t be built on anyway.

Commissioner Miller asked if the wildlife corridor could be opened up more along Stratton Brook road. A discussion about that ensued.

Chairman Beach asked about possible space available along the road for bio-remediation to reduce the development by 75 feet. Mr. Ferrero said that they don’t want to clear so much vegetation along the road that it opens up a view to and from those units. Chairman Beach applauded their decision to include a buffer along Stratton Brook, but said that, if there were one or two spots, it would help with the hydraulic plan. Commissioner Bucknam said that. if the path is lowered to 80’or 60’ from 100' there will not be much room for wildlife refuge. Mr. Merriam stated that it would be virtually impossible to relocate it.

Commissioner Nowak asked about plantings, and Mr. Ferrero stated they do not currently have a landscape plan, but do know that it will include indigenous species.

Commissioner Miller asked about slope stabilization measures being taken. Mr. Ferrero explained they have gravel slopes. They will rough cut some slopes, stabilize them with erosion control mats and reforest them with Mr. Klein’s help.

Chairman Beach asked about retaining walls. Mr. Ferrero said they will not be using mass retaining walls anywhere on the site, but there are a number of walkout basements. It will be up to the owner whether they wish to have slopes or build 4- to 5-foot high retaining walls instead. On one main slope they proposed building a wall, but it would have been a 6-foot wall, which would be monstrous.

Based on the discussion so far, Mr. Merriam summarized 5 conditions of approval.
No individual application of herbicides and pesticides by the homeowners. One company will do the lawn maintenance of each unit.
A post-construction site visit by the commission.
Come back with a best-management practices plan using organic materials.
Field markings on the site at sensitive areas/points. These markings indicate that, if materials are applied to that site, they could be damaging to the wetland system.
A 2- to 3-year ongoing post-construction monitoring plan implemented, that would take samples of run off and come back and report to the commission. If there are problems, corrective action will be taken.

Chairman Beach asked if there were some kind of performance bond associated with the post-construction monitoring. Mr. Merriam stated that a bond is a good idea and that, if the commission wishes this, the applicant will look into it.

Chairman Beach asked if the post-construction monitoring could go on for 5 years instead of 2 or 3. Mr. Merriam said that, by monitoring the surface runoff, they will know fairly quickly if any material is getting off the site, and said 3 years seems appropriate.
Chairman Beach said three years is a good timeline.

Mr. Donahue confirmed that the streets are private, and will be maintained by a private company. Chairman Beach said he hopes sump-pump issues are covered by the monitoring and maintenance plan.

Commissioner Miller was concerned about Hazel Meadow Pond and if it could be restored even though the applicant is not “responsible” for it.

Mr. Donahue stated that, as part of the land-use process, the applicant is putting out a revised master plan for the site, which identifies the place reserved for Dyno Nobel, and any other site available. It will show what is allowed and what is likely in the future to come forward to zoning.

Commissioner Winters asked if a wildlife corridor section could be widened a bit. Mr. Ferrero said they could look into that.

At this point in the meeting, Chairman Beach closed the public hearing, since no one was present to speak on the issue. Commissioner Sharpless moved to close the public hearing. Commissioner Bucknam seconded with all in favor.

Commissioner Sharpless stated there should be a good monitoring plan established, and the commission should be specific about what they want to see being monitored.

Chairman Beach said he is concerned about the possibility of nutrient impact on Hazel Meadow, which is a separate issue. Within the site itself, he is concerned about any evidence of nutrient loading in the second brook. A question was asked of how the water going into Hazel Meadow would be monitored. There was a discussion about how the commission could monitor the Hazel Meadow. Mr. Donahue said that they would seek permission on behalf of the commission to get a sample of the Pond if they so desired.

The Commission concluded that as part of the monitoring plan they would look for nitrate, phosphate, chloride, and vod. Apart from the wetland area they will also monitor road water, storm salts/sand, and stormwater discharge, and sump pumps. This will be monitored for a period of three years, and a performance bond will be issued. Fertilizer will be included in the best-management plan. Also, some of the specified units should be spaced farther apart.

For the next meeting, Mr. Merriam will draw up the monitoring plan, etc., for the next meeting, and will bring in the information Commissioner Miller wanted on the field markings.

A motion was made by Commissioner Ursini to continue this application at the next meeting; it was seconded by Commissioner Miller with all in favor.

Final few items omitted during Tuesday night presentation to City Council because of huge agenda limiting time

Redraw the curb connection in front of our house so that we will continue to be able to back out of the driveway somewhat safely.

PROTECT the riparian corridor as is. Listening to the replay of our Ward/Neighborhood meeting from May 15 on TV16 the final time last time, I heard Todd say that they would remove shoreline understory vegetation "so that people could enjoy the creek." That would, of course, heat up the water so the fish can't enjoy it! And it would go against the resolution passed a few months ago by this council to protect our riparian zones.

Between the removal of riparian vegetation upstream on the UA campus, several construction projects there and the current condition of Hill Place as it was abandoned by Aspen Ridge, the water quality as decreased exponentially. It is shallower when there is no rain and deeper (rises higher) and a greater flood risk when rain is falling.

Grade down the land north of the Moody property along South Hill to the same as the Moody property and eliminate the unjust, uncomfortable situation now facing the Moody family. They lost the majority of mature trees along the north edge of their property because the people working on Aspen Ridge piled that mass of dirt for their buildings and parking area that the roots were covered and cut and, one day, they moved the silt fence over against those trees and destroyed even more roots.

Finally, the land south of the walking bridge on the east side of the Town Branch should have all infrastructure and fill dirt removed and be restored as a natural stormwater retention garden for the eastern portion of the complex.

That would be the only change that could provide anything approaching the level of stormwater protection that land this provided in the past.

See photos of that wooded wetland taken before it was dredged and filled for Aspen Ridge. It was a natural storm garden that allowed the Town Branch to spread and reduced downstream flooding. In dry weather, there was no standing water, only flow areas fed by upstream springs.

Both timbered and grassy or brushy wetland must be spared from development wherever it is found if water quality and flooding problems are to be reduced in the Beaver Lake watershed.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Meeting video linked below


May 20 City Council meeting archived video




Jonah Tebbetts ties together bits of recent history of local projects


Have Confidence Man: Iconoclastic view of related issues



May 20 City Council meeting archived video

Northwest Arkansas Times: Hill Place/Aspen site decision delayed two weeks by council



The Morning News: Aspen Ridge/Hill Place site decision delayed two weeks by council

City Council delays decision on Hill Place/Aspen Ridge


Aspen Ridge/Hill Place site decision delayed two weeks by council

Good news is that council amends Hill Place planned-zoning district to allow trail through Pinnacle Prairie rather than extension of Brooks Avenue to Twelveth Street. Lack of need recognized by 6-1 council vote. Right of way remains city property.
PLEASE CLICK ON IMAGE OF Hill Place/Aspen Ridge silt fence failiing to keep silt out of the Town Branch of the West Fork of the White River. The view is south along the area dredged out of Pinnacle Prairie to make room for the foundation of a new portion of Brooks Bayou (Brooks Avenue, I mean) to route traffic to connect to Twelveth Street and S. Duncan Avenue.
People who live on 12th Street don't want the traffic routed there and a decades old city promise to residents was relied on to prevent his from happening. Because Pinnacle Foods Inc. owns the land on either side of this incomplete road and keeps it as a barrier around its freezer plant for safety of the residents of the neighborhood and security for the factory's ammonia supply and other reasons, a trail through that natural wetland prairie would be an excellent side route for the Heritage Trail along South Hill and South Duncan Avenues. Despite the factory and the houses nearby, the prairie area would give walkers and bicyclists a close view of what the land may have looked like before settlement.

One of the problems that stormwater educators have said they have difficulty overcoming is that the public sees litter in a stream and talks about litter. Silt is easy to spot only when muddy water is flowing. Protecting water quality requires stopping inappropriate siltation. Preventing littering is important but insignificant if a stream is allowed to silt in.
Careless people everywhere litter. Getting a small crowd together and cleaning up the trash tossed on the ground and washed down storm drains to a stream isn't difficult.
Careless developers may or may not litter. But their inattention to stormwater regulations can totally change the ecology of a stream in a short time. Getting them to care and to understand is the hard part.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Aspen Ridge/Hill Place project to be discussed soon after 6 p.m. at today's council meeting

What we want to see:
Build a trail from 12th street and along Brooks Avenue to the site on part of the dredged-out right of way and fill the remainder with native absorbent soil to be restored by nature to its previous state as wetland prairie. The trail will provide a route north and south for bird-watchers and native-plant enthusiasts as well as students going to the junior high, high school and UA plus many who work on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard or to the north.
There will be no legal requirement or justification or excuse for creating a street from Hill Place to 12th Street if a traffic bridge is allowed where the walking bridge currently spans the Town Branch of the West Fork of the White River between the east and west portions of the Hill Place student apartment complex.

Get a clear explanation of how a limited but relatively consistent movement of water from west to east under the trail across the Brooks right of way would be provided.

Get a clear explanation of how a very limited from from Rochier Hill (the proposed Summit project) across the railroad to the northwest would be provided with no risk of that amount rising to a level that would either erode the natural flow across World Peace Wetland Prairie and simultaneously stop the movement of silt-laden water to WPWP.

Allow ONLY the flow from directly west and southwest from the Pinnacle Foods Plant to enter the incomplete storm drain leading down the Soup Branch to South Duncan Avenue. The nasty, silt-laden water from the huge mound of non-local dirt piled at the SW corner of Aspen Ridge/Hill Place now flows uncontrolled under Duncan Avenue and through the yard and very near the house of Stanley Sullins and his family.

Require all contractors to cover dump trucks going and coming. The massive pile of dirt at the SW corner will be moving and that is many loads.
Require truckers to obey speed limits and stop signs, even the one that has been lying in our yard for three years since they tore out the street between my house and hoodenyple's!

Redraw the curb connection in front of our house so that we will continue to be able to back out of the driveway somewhat safely.

PROTECT the riparian corridor as is. Listening to the replay on TV the final time last Thursday's ward and neighborhood meeting ran on City 16, I heard Todd say that they would remove shoreline understory vegetation "so that people could enjoy the creek." That would, of course, heat up the water so the fish can't enjoy it! And it would go against the resolution passed a few months ago by this council to protect our riparian zones.

Between the removal of riparian vegetation upstream on the UA campus, several construction projects there and the current condition of Hill Place as it was abandoned by Aspen Ridge, the water quality as decreased exponentially. It is shallower when there is no rain and deeper and a greater flood risk when rain is falling.

Grade down the land north of the Moody property along South Hill to the same as the Moody property and eliminate the unjust, uncomfortable situation now facing the Moody family.

Finally, the land south of the walking bridge on the east side of the Town Branch should have all infrastructure and fill dirt removed and be restored as a natural storm-water retention garden for the eastern portion of the complex.

That would be the only change that could provide anything approaching the level of stormwater protection that land provided in the past.

Support your neighborhood by supporting the Town Branch neighborhood at the city council meeting at 6 p.m. on the second floor of city hall

UNFINISHED BUSINESS
4. R-PZD 08-2915 (Hill Place): An ordinance establishing a Residential Planned Zoning District titled R-PZD 08-2915, Hill Place, located at the southwest corner of 6th Street and Hill Avenue; containing approximately 27.10 acres; amending the Official Zoning Map of the City of Fayetteville; and adopting the Associated Master Development Plan. This ordinance was left on the First Reading at the May 6, 2008 City Council meeting.
For more of the

City Council Agenda for tonight, thanks to Jeff Erf
please click the link.

Monday, May 19, 2008

April 14, 2004, photo shows holes drilled by workers studying underground situation on property cleared for Aspen Ridge, soon to be Hill Place

PLEASE click on IMAGE to ENLARGE photo of holes drilled on Aspen Ridge development site 20 feet from south property line in winter 2004 as seen on April 14, 2004


Holes drilled on the Aspen Ridge site immediately filled with ground water. Has a copy of the study produced by those doing the drilling ever been made available to the city engineer's office?

Understanding what is beneath the surface necessity of good planning


Fran Alexander sums up biggest problem with Aspen Ridge/Hill Place site


"Fayetteville is long overdue in identifying what functions the different types of land and soil within our urban area are performing and then making that information really matter in urban planning.
Generally we do not think "big picture "as a community in the physical sense, as a whole unit that will be seriously affected by the digging, filling, draining, dredging, scraping and building. We deflect discussions about land function because it is a really hot issue with property owners who want to utilize what they own in any way they desire, no matter how that use may impact neighbors or the town's taxpayers. And we certainly maintain a state of denial when it comes to what lies beneath the land.
A favorite word in city government, infrastructure, needs to be applied more broadly than for just defining roads, sewers, pipelines, etc. so that natural systems are recognized and accorded their importance in the physical place where we all live, and which is molded by our actions.
We spend most of our public decision-making at the planning commission and city council levels, where longterm planning like the 2025 City Plan is referenced regularly.
Often discussions that begin about land use and suitability wind up being about how our city plan calls for infill to avoid urban sprawl, as if these two topics were about the same thing. They are not. One is about the reality of what we have physically available in Fayetteville both above and below ground level. Discussing what we want to build has traditionally been more about design and scope than what the land can tolerate and still deliver to humans in its natural role in the environment. We need to get our heads and actions straight on these two very different, yet intertwined, issues."
Fran Alexander

Global-warming commissioners, Carbon Caps Task Force meet in Springdale

Please click on image to enlarge.

Global-warming commissioners, Carbon Caps Task Force meet in Springdale

Please click on image to enlarge.

Global-warming commissioners, Carbon Caps Task Force meet in Springdale

Please click on image to enlarge.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

24-stem cluster of milkweed can be seen on my special tour

Please click on image to ENLARGE.

Everyone needs to watch Thursday's meeting at 9:30 a.m. Monday on government channel 16 on Cox Cable to prepare for Tueday's 6 p.m. council meeting

I watched the video Sunday morning and heard something that I had missed during the meeting. Todd, one of the planners for Appian Center for Design, said that the plan includes removing some of the existing brush along the Town Branch in order to allow people to "see and enjoy the creek."
Without knowing that I had taken the photo and written what I did about protecting the stream and the problems of bank erosion and raising of the water temperature that has occurred already as a result of the Aspen Ridge land clearing.
That would be adding more injury to the already injured stream and to the Beaver Lake watershed.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Silted-in Town Branch still a pleasant place to fish even as the deep holes of water get shallower as each rain brings muddy water from cleared sites

Please click on photo to Enlarge view of Damen Casteel and his daughter, Kristen, fishing in the Town Branch of the West Fork of the White River about 100 yards south of Martin Luther King Drive (Sixth Street) in Fayetteville, Arkansas

The Casteel residence is on South Hill Avenue on the east side of the Hill Place/Aspen Ridge site.

The removal of trees and brush along the riparian zone of the Town Branch causes the water temperature to rise and teams with the siltation that makes the stream shallow to reduce the water's fish population. In fact, such species as rock bass and smallmouth bass no longer are caught there. Even red horse suckers and green sunfish are now rare in such parts of this stream and other tributaries of the West Fork of the White River that flow from urban areas.

Tall, green milkweed ready for monarch butterflies if mowers and weedeaters stay away till fall

Please click on image to enlarge photo of Aspen Ridge/Hill Place milkweed growing through gravel from its old root in rich soil buried below. This view is from the old east-west railroad embankment that is to become "treeless trail." The species appears most likely to be either Asclepias viridis (spider milkweed) or Asclepias syriaca (common millkweed) or Asclepias virdiflora (green milkweed). Anyone who can tell BEFORE they bloom is urged to take a look in person and share the accurate identification by commenting on this Web log. There is no guarantee that these plants will be around long enough to bloom.



Monarch Watch Web site offers links to information on other butterfly species' requirements for survival

The Indian Trail (to be so-named because it intersects the old Trail of Tears in this area) would have been a shady walk with a great variety of wildflowers already there if it hadn't been denuded in 2005 and cut down to a lower grade for most of its length to accommodate the Aspen Ridge developers. I truly believe the Appian architects and engineers might have retained that trail almost in its pre-Aspen Ridge state had they gotten the Aspen Ridge project four years ago. Maybe they'll protect these milkweeds for the monarch butterflies' caterpillars and protect selected other species of plants on the area as long as possible for other species to use.
Many of the other "weeds" complained about by a few neighbors at the Town Branch/Ward One meeting Thursday are also native plants valuable to birds and butterflies and other wildlife. It is sad to think that many people destroy important plant species that various butterflies and other things MUST HAVE TO REPRODUCE in their yards and then wonder where the butterflies and bees and birds have gone. The definition of "weed" is a plant that someone doesn't want on his property. Few plants are "weeds" to wildlife. Even the hated Japanese honeysuckle and invasive non-native thistle species are valued by butterflies and bees and birds.
Learn to identify native thistles, protect them and remove only the nonnative invasive species

A couple of men (no doubt hired by the people trying to get Hill Place project approved by the Fayetteville City Council this Tuesday), mowed and used weedeaters to take down vegetation between this spot and Martin Luther King Boulevard (nee W. Sixth Street) on Saturday morning, no doubt in order to appease a few of the neighbors.
But most neighbors are concerned about the potential flooding of the area, and the thin vegetative cover of especially hardy and determined plants on the land is the only thing reducing erosion on the property right now. The storm drains and detention/retention ponds aren't doing the job and the silt fences are either over-ridden by fill dirt or victims of erosion below and not protecting the Beaver Lake watershed.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Five of eight Fayetteville aldermen attend Ward One/Town Branch neighborhood meeting on May 15

Please click on images to ENLARGE.



To read The Morning News story click on
Town Branch neighbors review student-housing project


Council members attending the Ward One Town Branch meeting with developers on May 15, 2008, were Adella Gray and Brenda Thiel of Ward One, Nancy Allen of Ward Four and Lioneld Jordan and Shirley Lucas of Ward Four. The proposed Hill Place student-apartment development on the failed Aspen Ridge townhouse project site south of Sixth Street, North of Eleventh Street and west of Hill Avenue is inside Ward one, but is separated from Ward Four to the north only by Sixth Street and from Ward Four only by the railroad. They will be among the eight aldermen on Tuesday night considering approval of the Hill Place planned-zoning district which would allow more than 800 college students to live on the property.
Neighbors are invited to comment again Tuesday evening, probably the final time before the council votes on the project.
Some engineering details are to be worked out between the developers and city engineer's office after the PZD is authorized by the council.

Crawdad festival today and Saturday in Harrison

Please click on image to read:

Harrison celebrates Crawfish Days May 16-17

2005 plan for Aspen Ridge

PLEASE click on image to ENLARGE plan for Aspen Ridge as approved in 2005 with view west at top, north to right.

West Fork Water Celebration coming Saturday



West Fork Celebration photos from 2007



West Fork Celebration on Saturday


3rd Annual West Fork Watershed Celebration
Riverside Park - May 17, 2008

FREE ADMISSION!
The 3rd Annual West Fork Watershed Celebration of 2008 is an important event. The West Fork of the White River flows into Beaver Lake, which is our supply of drinking water. Each year, a cleanup of our river is conducted as part of protecting our source of safe drinking water and protecting wildlife habitats.
If you or your child would like to be a volunteer for this year's river cleanup or volunteer to help with activities being held at Riverside Park on May 17, 2008, you must complete and sign the liability and registrations forms. These forms can be found by clicking the Forms link to the left.
Cleanup teams will conduct a cleanup of the West Fork of the White River from Brentwood to Greenland. Some volunteers will be in boats and others will walk. The River cleanup will be divided into four sections with several pickup points along the way. Teams will be assigned to each section. An adult Team Leader and other adults will be a part of each team, and will be responsible for coordinating his or her team for the pick-up of materials.
It is hoped that parents will join their children at this event and make it a family outing. Come join the fun and excitement!
Volunteers Needed!!!
Sign up for a clean-up team and include the whole family. Win Prizes! Call 225-1611 today.
Activity Schedule:

12:00 Registration and River Clean-up
Volunteers needed for river and park
Call 479.225.1611
3-6 Awards and Prizes...
Food prepared by the West Fork Fire Department and WFEPA
Activities for every age including:
music
fly-fishing
canoeing
fishing for the kids (poles provided, bait for sale)
water ecology
water dynamics/chemistry classes
plus bee-keeping
health info and more
6-8 LIVE MUSIC by Local Groups
Sponsored by the WF Lions' Club

QUESTIONS?
Call Henry Griffith at 479.839.3553
Frances Hime at 479.225.1611
http://www.wfepa.org
The 3rd Annual West Fork Watershed Celebration - 2008 is being coordinated by the West Fork E.P.A. with support from the cities of West Fork and Greenland, and partnership with the following non-profit organizations: Washington County Environmental Affairs, Audubon, Watershed Conservation Resources, American rivers, Beaver Water district, Washington County Conservation, Washington County Bee Keepers Assn., Scouts, other organizations and merchants., U.S.G.S., Arkansas Forestry Service.

The West Fork Environmental Protection Association is a 501(c)3 organization and is not affiliated with the Environmental Protection Agency or any other government agency.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Everyone will be welcomed!

PLEASE CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE.

Old U.S. Geological Survey maps of Town Branch Neighborhood area

Please click on images to ENLARGE. Scroll down to see recent FEMA map after 30 acres was cleared for Aspen Ridge project where proposed HIl Place project would appear. Scroll further to see photos of the area before wetland overflow area east of the Town Branch was cleared and filled with non-absorbent material. The word TOWN on the USGS map appears on the part of the stream running between South Ellis Avenue and South Van Buren Avenue.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Fema floodplain map shows that Hill Place plan remains major threat to people downstream

The maps based on aerial photos below are reasonably new, and people who live in some houses along the Town Branch of the West Fork of the White River between Eleventh Street and Fifteenth Street who are paying on mortgages on their homes now have to pay for flood insurance.
A close look at the maps reveals that FEMA now acknowledges not only that many buildings in that stretch are either IN or immediately adjacent to the acknowledged flood plain but also that much of the infrastructure for the failed Aspen Ridge site was built in the flood plain between Sixth and Eleventh streets west of South Hill Avenue.
People who have lived in the neighborhood a long time know that the actual floodplain is much wider in places than the FEMA map shows.
While the developers of the Hill Place project are being required to remove a sewer line and blocks much of the flow under the bridge at Eleventh Street, they have not been told to build their proposed traffic bridge higher than the current walkiing bridge. In fact, they are proposing to build the traffic bridge LOWER than the walking bridge built in 2005 or 2006 across the stream. Because federal agencies will barely even look at the plans, the city must make the decision on this further construction in the floodplain.
In 2003 and 2004, the developers claimed that FEMA maps did not show floodplain in the area. Neighbors pointed out that the Town Branch FLOWED OVER much of that land frequently even though the government had not designated it as floodplain and that, not only did the stream flow over the bridge at Eleventh Street but sometimes flowed over the bridge at Fifteenth Street.
Just another example of NIMBIES being ignored in favor of developers and builders who don't care what harm their projects might do as long as they are able to reach the density level required to make a huge profit. People who say "Not in my backyard" in this neighborhood have seen the water there (and some have seen it in their houses or flowing in front of their houses); so they aren't talking about a trivial problem.
The lowest portion of the former wooded wetland at the southeast end of the project must be dug out and structured to pre-Aspen Ridge grade or lower to reapproach the historical flood-prevention capacity of that land.
No further paving should be done southeast of the existing walking bridge and the impervious fill dirt should be removed and water again should be allowed to soak into appropriate organic soil.
Developers claim their right to build as long as their project doesn't send more water off their land than flowed off there before.
They use voodoo mathematics that ignore overflow from the Town Branch and that ignore the nearly 100 percent permeability of the surface of the area before it was cleared and filled with rocky dirt and red clay.
They rely on the fact that water has threatened the downstream homes a little more each year during the decades the University of Arkansas has filled similar land on the campus and covered or dredged absorbent soil on the campus in favor of non-absorbent, non-organic soil and concrete.
Now is the time to begin to require developments to DECREASE downstream flooding, not aggravate it and blame the university for its building practices. Multiple wrong decisions don't add up to a right decision.

Monday, May 12, 2008

FEMA floodplain map of Aspen Ridge/Hill Place and streets downstream

Please click on images to ENLARGE.


These are reasonably new maps and people who live in some houses along the Town Branch of the West Fork of the White River between Eleventh Street and Fifteenth Street now have to pay for flood insurance if they have a mortgage on their homes. A close look at the map reveals that FEMA now acknowledges not only that many buildings in that stretch are either IN or immediately adjacent to the acknowledged flood plain but also that much of the infrastructure for the failed Aspen Ridge site was built in the flood plain between Sixth and Eleventh streets west of South Hill Avenue.
In 2003 and 2004, the developers claimed that FEMA maps did not show floodplain in the area. Neighbors pointed out that the Town OVERFLOWED much of that land frequently even though the government had not designated it as floodplain and that, not only did the stream flow over the bridge at Eleventh Street but sometimes flowed over the bridge at Fifteenth Street.
Just another example of NIMBIES being ignored in favor of developers and builders who don't care what harm their projects might do.

Please attend meeting Thursday

PLEASE CLICK on IMAGE for EASIER READING.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Litter in streams is irritating. Silt in streams is devastating

PLEASE CLICK ON IMAGE OF Hill Place/Aspen Ridge silt fence failiing to keep silt out of the Town Branch of the West Fork of the White River. The view is south along the area dredged out of Pinnacle Prairie to make room for the foundation of a new portion of Brooks Bayou (Brooks Avenue, I mean) to route traffic to connect to Twelveth Street and S. Duncan Avenue.
People who live on 12th Street don't want the traffic routed there and a decades old city promise to residents was relied on to prevent his from happening. Because Pinnacle Foods Inc. owns the land on either side of this incomplete road and keeps it as a barrier around its freezer plant for safety of the residents of the neighborhood and security for the factory's ammonia supply and other reasons, a trail through that natural wetland prairie would be an excellent side route for the Heritage Trail along South Hill and South Duncan Avenues. Despite the factory and the houses nearby, the prairie area would give walkers and bicyclists a close view of what the land may have looked like before settlement.

One of the problems that stormwater educators have said they have difficulty overcoming is that the public sees litter in a stream and talks about litter. Silt is easy to spot only when muddy water is flowing. Protecting water quality requires stopping inappropriate siltation. Preventing littering is important but insignificant if a stream is allowed to silt in.
Careless people everywhere litter. Getting a small crowd together and cleaning up the trash tossed on the ground and washed down storm drains to a stream isn't difficult.
Careless developers may or may not litter. But their inattention to stormwater regulations can totally change the ecology of a stream in a short time. Getting them to care and to understand is the hard part.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Natural raingardens and stormwater-absorbing wetland deserve protection

Twelve-flower cluster of native trumpet honeysuckle flowers on World Peace Wetland Prairie on May 9, 2008.

Please click on photo to MAGNIFY view of Lonicera sempervirens, the native, non-invasive, loose-climbing and gently twining trumpet honeysuckle photographed on May 9, 2008. The 11 flowers shown come from a single stem between the last two leaves at the ends of new growth, which are joined at their bases and grow cup-like around the stem. The flowers grow out from there and the berry-borne seeds will eventually replace them. Unlike its relative, Japanese honeysuckle (L. japonica), Lonicera sempervirens (also known in some areas as coral honeysuckle) will not spread out of control, and its sparse vines won't strangle shrubs, small trees or tall grass.