Today's Headlines
Home » Editorial » The Looks of the Place

The Looks of the Place

Opinion/Editorial for 4-26-17

The Looks of the Place

There was a program through the Arkansas Economic Development Commission a few years back where they would send strangers into your town to photograph what visitors see when they come into town. The idea is that when you live here, you know what NOT to look at. You know where the pretty spots are that you take community pride in and you know how to avoid the eyesores. Visitors don’t know all that so they look at the good, the bad and the ugly. They see it all and “it all” goes into making their impression of the town.  It’s a good idea to know what visitors see. Keeps us on our toes and encourages us to spruce things up. We have a couple of eyesores. Some are permanent and have been there forever and some are temporary awaiting a new idea, a new owner or a new loan!! Some eyesores are really just “Works-in-progress” that can’t be fixed over night, but will eventually look great. Some eyesores are permanent…the creation of some well-meaning “Frank Lloyd Wrong” that’s just pretty ugly and pretty apt to stay that way.

The second phase of the project is to visit other towns (the prosperous ones on the ball and progressive) and copy their ideas. Sabrina and I visited a dozen Veterans Memorials before making any plans. Honorable mention goes to Sallisaw and Hot Springs Village. Town Square “BESTS” include low budget ones like Bentonville and Carthage, Missouri and big budget ones like Fayetteville and the golly whopper of them all-Eldorado, Arkansas. In any business (community development, banking, restaurants or newspapers) imitation is the highest form of flattery. If it works one place….copy it unabashedly! You see it all the time. Very few original ideas.

There are some rough spots around Greenwood. We got a letter from a reader complaining about one and instead of printing the letter and embarrassing the property owner, I visited with that property owner and found out that the mess is part of a larger, grand plan that will eventually be a credit to the community (if and only if water and sewer can be provided). It’s one of those “Works-in-Progress” that we will endure temporarily. Be patient, the property owner knows it’s ugly and is working on it. There. Letter answered. Embarrassment averted and knowledge shared. Potential big problem identified.

The Greenwood Planning Commission jealously guards their jurisdiction. They’re good folks. I appointed or re-appointed most of them. The City Council is averse to passing rules that step on the toes of the Planning Commission, so some eyesores remain legal when it would be easy to outlaw them. But the Planning Commission is reluctant to pass a bunch of regs that make it impossible to develop here and no one gripes and bellyaches more than a real estate developer who is made to install sidewalks, parks and streetlights. Why bother if it’s not required? The result is Barling or Lavaca where neither is required and houses are going up everywhere because the developer doesn’t have to install anything…let the taxpayers install all of that later on down the road with public money that could buy police cars and firetrucks. It’s a tricky business. Hat’s off to those who are willing to serve and to those who endure some ugly spots in the meantime.

The “rest of the story” as Paul Harvey used to say, has to do with territorial rights of water supply. There are some frightfully small waterlines reaching out to developed areas. Too small to effectively fight a fire. Who allowed that to happen all over the area? And, by the way,…it’s a problem all over the area. The regional rural water suppliers run the smallest possible lines to their potential water subscribers. Then the property gets annexed and there is no one to supply sewer because rural water suppliers who “own the territory” are not in the sewer treatment business.

We are about to see more of just that kind of mess out on the west side of town as the area develops. That will require delicate negotiation and strong leadership in Greenwood, Arkansas, where I remain,

Yours for a kinder tomorrow,

Kenneth Lawton Edwards, Editor

PSG Pharmacy
PSG Pharmacy