Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Jordan's state-of-the-city speech covers many concerns of Fayetteville residents

The Morning News

Local News for Northwest Arkansas

Mayor Lays Out Goals In State Of The City Address

By Skip Descant
FAYETTEVILLE -- Calling for ideas as far-reaching as expanding the role of the of Parks and Recreation Department to details as small as organizing a program to exchange light bulbs, Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan reiterated the "state of our city is sound."

The Tuesday night address was the new mayor's first official citywide briefing to hint at what would rank as priorities in the Jordan administration.

Some goals are distinctly immediate, such as his call for a "community summit on the future of Fayetteville" in the next six weeks. Jordan maintains his administration will put forward an economic and community vision plan for the city within his first 90 days.

"A slow national economy is no excuse for inaction, but an opportunity for us to move quickly and prepare now for our shared future," Jordan said, reading from prepared remarks.

Other plans were broader and more long-term. Jordan called for a changing idea of the role of the city's parks program. He wants it to expand beyond providing just playing fields, but community gardens, neighborhood parks and a dog park.

"I will propose a new division, to be implemented without additional costs, that emphasizes our community heritage and citizen participation," Jordan said. "Examples to be considered will be increasing the number of way-finding signs and local historical markers."

Many of the proposals Jordan spoke of were the kinds of ideas recently put forward by his transition team. Others were ideas he offered during the campaign. It was his idea to find a way to put more energy-saving compact fluorescent bulbs in homes, saving energy costs for families. In his speech Tuesday, Jordan suggested starting bulb exchange program in the high-rise Hillcrest Tower, a public housing building.

Though Jordan did put a firm timeline on any of the proposals, the point he stressed, was to act, and act fast.

"I'm going to start right now," Jordan said after the speech. "And if we finish it in six months, then we do. Or it may take us two years. But the point is we're going to start."

And by a vote of 4-3, the City Council voted down a road construction cost-share project with Park West LLC for the upgrade and future relocation of Arkansas 112. Most of the council was of the opinion that the project raised too many questions regarding its clear cost estimates and environmental concerns.

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