Pleasant Valley Roundabout Project Highlights Civic Politics

by George Waldon  on Monday, May. 19, 2014 12:00 am  

A vocal minority in Pleasant Valley set a $600,000 street improvement project in motion nearly two years ago to slow traffic near Fulbright Elementary School.

A vocal minority in the west Little Rock neighborhood, led by a federal judge, managed to derail the project last month after the city spent $50,000 to develop construction plans in preparation to start construction.

No one can say for certain whether a majority of the 950-plus PV property owners want or don’t want a roundabout built at Pleasant Valley and Arkansas Valley drives.

The civic imbroglio is a case study of how things get done and don’t get done in Little Rock. It also raises questions about how a project that is greenlighted to go can be stopped in what appears to be the 13th hour.

“What is our process going to be?” said Gene Fortson, city director at large. “It went through the filter of four or five steps of the way, and now it’s not going to get done?

“The real problem is the process.”

Unless supporters intervene, the roundabout project appears to be headed for legislative redaction at city hall.

The ward representative for the area that includes Pleasant Valley is washing his hands of the project after conducting what some describe as a surprise straw poll vote that resulted in resounding opposition to the roundabout.

“It’s dead,” said Brad Cazort, city director representing Ward 4. “We’ll go back and amend the ordinance.”

The vote came out of a special public hearing that Cazort called and which was held April 8 at the Fulbright Elementary cafeteria.

A public notice of the meeting gave no indication that a vote would be taken that would decide the fate of the project.

An email sent out by Cazort about the meeting doesn’t mention anything about a vote: “City staff and I will be present to explain the project in more detail and answer questions. Whether you support or oppose the project, just have questions or need to know more details, I strongly urge you to attend.”



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