Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Just one reason there is a new regime in Fayetteville

May 2, 2003

Aubrey's Notebook:
Wilson Spring Controversy Flows On
A few months ago the Fayetteville City Council authorized the mayor to negotiate to create an appropriate use of the Wilson Spring area.

A long-time possession of the city, a high percentage of the land is flood plain, seasonal wetland and full-fledged wetland.

The acreage on the northwest side of I-540 in northwest Fayetteville is home to birds of many species as well as terrestrial species that are unique to such areas.

A great many volunteers have studied the area and set out a plan to preserve the most important parts with the understanding that a compatible development should be allowed on some portion of the land.

A task force including people with environmental knowledge and concern as well as people whose focus is primarily on development agreed on a parcelization that would be best for all.

However, the mayor has now brought forth an offer from a developer that would buy all the land and then donate a much smaller area than the task force approved for preservation.

Irony is illustrated in many aspects of this situation.

One ironic thing that may not have been mentioned is that developers are constantly coming up with projects that violate storm-water rules, wetland-protection rules and the spirit and intent of zoning ordinances and many other principles dear to the hearts of the city's residents.

When such projects are rubber-stamped by the city's planning commission and city council, the reason is pretty much the same every time: This is private property and we can regulate only so far as our existing laws allow.

Wilson Spring is public property.

The city has an opportunity to create a demonstration for all of how the land should be treated. Wetland and streams and trees and native grass on prairies and the wild things that depend on natural habitat CAN be treated with respect on this public land. Human use CAN be regulated to minimize change and destruction.

Wilson Spring is public property.

A Web site titled Mudwompers contains much of the background information on this project from newspapers, presentations by scientists and people from many backgrounds. The case has been made for protecting the Wilson Spring area. No public money is required to buy it or change it.

Wilson Spring is public property.

Another irony is that this property is very near the University of Arkansas. The university has scientists with expertise on all matters involved in this issue. There are stream and wetland and wildlife experts, there are landscape architects, there are engineers of all kinds. There are recreation experts to talk about the value of having such natural areas for bird-watching and hiking for relaxation as well as for educational purposes.

The university, however, has never consulted its own professionals when planning its projects. The university doesn't consult the city planning commission before starting a project. There is only ONE detention or retention pond to slow the rush of storm water from the increasingly paved-over campus. That one is at Baum Stadium.

The university is public property.

As the intellectual center of the state, the UA campus should be a showcase for doing things not only according to state laws and city ordinances and federal regulations but also things that scientists say need to be done to go beyond these requirements to take a leadership role in such things as wildlife and wetland and tree preservation. The university should lead us toward reduction of pollution and storm-water damage as water leaves the campus going northwest to the Illinois River watershed and southeast to the Town Branch and West Fork of the White River.

The university is public property.

It is time for the city and the university to step up and lead us into an era of reasonable growth with an eye to the overall highest and best use of our land for the future. The ambitious goals of many must be met through means that do not result in long-term damage to the quality of life of everyone in our area.


Anonymous said...

Selling Wilson Spring isn't the only reason. Lioneld Jordan is a man that people trust.

Anonymous said...

Lioneld is a man that has lived in this city his entire life, yet never sniffed a college degree.

Thats ridiculous and speaks to his intelligence, work ethic, and abilities in general.

Anonymous said...

How many semester hours of UA credit does Lioneld have and how much training in various management courses has he had? That added to his depth of experience in city government and his sound judgment and common sense put him well ahead of plenty of people with multiple degrees.