Fayetteville parking lot project brings up legal concerns


"NWA is more concerned about looking like it is doing something for the artist community instead of actually doing it," Simone said.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA) — A parking lot project in Downtown Fayetteville is bringing up legal concerns.

The Fayetteville City Council was set to decide the location of a new downtown parking deck at its meeting on January 7, 2020.

It was tabled, leaving many people concerned — but that’s not the only issue left unresolved.

NWA is more concerned about looking like it is doing something for the artist community instead of actually doing it.

Simone, Fayetteville City Council Meeting

On Tuesday (Jan. 7) the Fayetteville City Council passed 7-1 a resolution to add housing to a proposed parking deck project for the Cultural Arts Corridor.

We want to be here, but we just can’t afford to live here.

Simone, Fayetteville City Council Meeting

Some people, like Simone, spoke out at the meeting on the need for housing.

“What I and so many of our artistic peers are asking is to not leave our voices out of the process,” she said. “Especially when it comes to our basic needs.”

Fayetteville City Council Member Kyle Smith said he agrees and thinks the city already lacks enough attainable housing.

“If we aren’t doing every project that we have through that lens, I think we’re really missing opportunities to serve the public,” Smith said.

A $32 million bond was approved by voters to fund the Cultural Arts Corridor project — $10 million of that will pay for the parking garage.

The new proposal is raising eyebrows because the Fayetteville Housing Authority would have to pitch in for the housing portion.

“The voters approved $10 million for parking and they’re going to get $10 million worth of parking,” Smith said. “None of the bond money will be spent on anything voters didn’t approve but that doesn’t mean that we can’t design the project in a way that still leaves room for other uses and other projects on the same site.”

Fayetteville City Attorney Kit Williams said trying to mix this money is a dangerous game.

“It’s not worth taking the risk in my opinion,” he said. “We don’t want to be in that position and so my recommendation is to do the safest thing which is not to try and work in coordination with the housing authority to build housing on our property.”

One thing everyone can agree on though — a location for the parking deck needs to be made quickly.

“The city council just needs to look at all the factors and decide what’s the most important to them and then make the decision,” Williams said.

It’s really unfortunate that the whole Cultural Arts Corridor project has been consumed by this parking idea because it is supposed to emphasize our arts and our culture and not just our storage vehicles.

Kyle Smith, Ward 4, Fayetteville City Council

The two parking deck locations still up for discussion is the Depot Lot on West Avenue and the East Lot on School Avenue.

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