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June 21, 2018

Aldermen discuss streets, sidewalks

The Russellville City Council’s Finance Committee discussed funding three items from the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) during its Tuesday meeting — paving streets, the Reasoner Lane extension and fixing some sidewalks, particularly on North Phoenix Avenue.

The committee has earmarked $500,000 for overlay of city streets, but Mayor Bill Eaton said it may be awhile before any overlay is done. That’s because there’s so much overlay and renovations being done through the Arkansas River Valley on Interstate 40 by the primary company who does overlay — Blackstone Construction Co.

Eaton told the council representatives from Arkansas Tech University have encouraged the city to move forward with a design for Reasoner Lane’s proposed extension to State Highway 124. This drew some questions and criticism from Aldermen Richard Harris and Martin Irwin. Harris said he was struggling with the idea of building a street on private property.

“Can we get an idea of what Arkansas Tech is going to do with the property?” he asked.

Mark Tripp said he understood the aldermen’s concerns, but the extension of Reasoner Lane boils down to another positive partnership with Arkansas Tech University. Fire Station No. 3 was built on land leased from ATU and after years of discussion, the extension of Phoenix Avenue became a reality.

“ATU and the city need each other,” Tripp explained. “What is good for Arkansas Tech is good for the city, and what is good for the city is good for Arkansas Tech.”

Irwin said if ATU’s purpose is to develop student housing south of the street, then that would change his opinion. If the purpose was to develop between north of the street and Interstate 40, then that would make his view a little different.

“I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Tripp. I think that Russellville, Arkansas and Arkansas Tech ought to be synonymous with one another. It matters to me what the intent for development is. I’d just like to know what their intentions are.”

Kurt Jones — who attended his first meeting as new director of Public Works — pointed out that the project was included in the city’s CIP plan because it would relieve congestion from other downtown roadways.

“ATU officials have asked the city to configure the new road in such a way that it will allow for development, whether the land is conveyed through a lease or right-of-way,” he said. “We all know at this point that they have some plans to develop it, whether it’s divide the lots and sell them off or actually build apartments or whatever.

“There are other locations — Russell Road is a perfect example; it went through land that was undeveloped. The bottom line from the city’s standpoint is that there needs to be some kind of connection running along that interstate back to 124 to relieve some of the congestion at Harrell Drive.”

Harris said he would meet with Jones before next Thursday’s Finance Committee meeting, where the Reasoner Lane extension will be discussed further.

Eaton said the issue has been discussed since the 1990s, and is not about the present but the future.

“This is not something that was dreamed up in the last year or so,” the mayor said. “I just know this will be another option that we don’t have right now for connectivity that we can provide. It may not happen next year. Look what happened down here on Parkway. People said that was dumbest thing they had seen in their life. They couldn’t imagine anybody driving on Parkway.

“But what’s the second-most used street in town? Parkway. What’s happened on Parkway? Development. What happens with that development? It puts taxes in the city coffers so we can build other streets and hopefully connect things for the next generation — not you and me. Down the road, it will be a tremendous benefit.”

Another issue the city must tackle has to do with fixing downtown sidewalks to improve their connectivity for the growing number of people who use regular and motorized wheelchairs in the city. The mayor pointed out that is their only form of transportation and they are not getting served by the city.

“We’ve got people that cannot go from an area west of El Paso to the east side of Arkansas Avenue,” Eaton explained. “People have called me and said the only access is to go through Arkansas Tech, across Arkansas Avenue, and there is not a wheelchair-accessible point. They can’t do their business, unless they go back through Arkansas Tech. If we don’t get some sidewalks and stuff that way, we’re really missing the boat.”

The committee also agreed that work on refurbishing Cedar Street — which will lead to The Landing convention center site north of I-40 — could be done by city employees.

Look for more from Tuesday’s meeting in a future edition of The Courier.

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Aldermen discuss streets, sidewalks

Residents and business owners benefit from neighborhood marketing and branding initiative

WASHINGTON, July 29, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Seventeen communities from around the country have been selected for an initiative that will help them attract and retain residents, businesses and investment, announced NeighborWorks America, a national nonprofit corporation that creates opportunities for people to live in affordable homes, improve their lives and strengthen their communities.

The 17 organizations will work intensively over the next year with expert marketing consultants and local stakeholders to develop marketing plans for their target neighborhoods. These plans will include strategies to reposition the neighborhoods’ images and brands in their regional housing markets.

“A community needs a positive story to create a sense of pride and catalyze investment,” said Ascala Sisk, director of the Stable Communities Initiative at NeighborWorks America. “Despite negative perceptions, these neighborhoods have strengths upon which they can build. Through this program, NeighborWorks America is helping communities to bolster these strengths and spread the word about those assets in a way that resonates.”

NeighborWorks America launched the Neighborhood Marketing Program in 2012 and has been working with 16 organizations through the first round of the initiative to create strong neighborhood brands and rebuild market demand. The first round participants have been implementing a range of creative strategies to promote their neighborhoods, including hosting neighborhood events and new logo launch parties, and creating neighborhood associations. Visit www.stablecommunities.org/marketing for highlights and to watch a video that demonstrates how these marketing tactics are improving internal and external perceptions.

The second round of the program is made possible with a $750,000 donation from the Wells Fargo Housing Foundation. Additional funders include Capital One Foundation and Citi.

“At the Wells Fargo Housing Foundation, we focus our support on neighborhood revitalization efforts in meaningful ways throughout the communities we serve,” said Connie Wright, assistant director with the Wells Fargo Housing Foundation.  “We recognize that a key component of community revitalization is to develop an effective local neighborhood marketing plan that creates a positive connection to the community.  The Neighborhood Marketing Initiative is designed to help distressed communities achieve that goal and the Wells Fargo Housing Foundation is delighted to support NeighborWorks America and its network members with this vital work.”    

The second round Neighborhood Marketing Program participants and their targeted neighborhoods are:

  • Houston, TX: Avenue Community Development Corporation, Near Northside/Northside Village
  • Charlotte, NC: Charlotte-Mecklenberg Housing Partnership, Seversville
  • St. Paul, MN: Dayton’s Bluff Neighborhood Housing Services, Payne-Phalen
  • Flint, MI: Habitat for Humanity of Michigan, Grand Traverse District Neighborhood
  • Orange, NJ: Housing and Neighborhood Development Services, Valley Arts District
  • Goshen, IN: La Casa, Chamberlain Neighborhood
  • Chelsea, MA: The Neighborhood Developers, Shirley Avenue
  • Barberton, OH: Neighborhood Development Services, Downtown Barberton
  • Woonsocket, RI: NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley, Our Neighborhood Planning District
  • Lincoln, NE: NeighborWorks Lincoln, Clinton Neighborhood
  • Sacramento, CA: NeighborWorks HomeOwnership Center Sacramento Region, Oak Park
  • Salt Lake City, UT: NeighborWorks Salt Lake, River District North Temple
  • Roseburg, OR: NeighborWorks Umpqua, Southeast Roseburg
  • Roxbury, MA: Nuestra Comunidad Development Corporation, Blue Hill Avenue
  • Pocatello, ID: Pocatello Neighborhood Housing Services, Old Town Neighborhood
  • Baltimore, MD: St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center, Belair-Edison
  • Providence, RI: West Elmwood Housing Development Corporation, West End

For more information about the NeighborWorks America Stable Communities Initiative, including the Neighborhood Marketing Program, visit nw.org and www.stablecommunities.org.      

About NeighborWorks America
For 35 years, NeighborWorks America has created opportunities for people to improve their lives and strengthen their communities by providing access to homeownership and to safe and affordable rental housing. In the last five years, NeighborWorks organizations have generated more than $19.5 billion in reinvestment in these communities. NeighborWorks America is the nation’s leading trainer of community development and affordable housing professionals.

SOURCE NeighborWorks America

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Residents and business owners benefit from neighborhood marketing and branding initiative