FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A proposal for the city of Fayetteville to purchase real estate for the creation of a Black history preservation district was tabled Tuesday after legality concerns.
NWA Black Heritage Assocation President and Co-Founder Sharon Killian said the group wants to stop the erasure of the Black community by creating a district devoted to the restoration, redevelopment and advancement of the Black community. The area is at Lafayette Street, Fletcher Avenue and northeast along Spout Spring Branch.
“Our goal is to recover properties some that may have been taken by ill means and to save any more properties from being sold off outside of the Black community,” Killian said.
Council member D’Andre Jones was one of the sponsors of the proposal. Jones said as we approach Juneteenth, it’s important Fayetteville takes action on supporting the Black community.
“I do believe that we have to be intentional and deliberate as it relates to repairing the harm,” Jones said.
City attorney Kit Williams said he had some legal concerns about the proposal saying it’s unconstitutional for a city to authorize the purchase of land for any nonprofit.
“The mayor’s supposed to buy property and give it to them and that has been specifically found to be unconstitutional by the Arkansas Supreme Court,” Williams said.
On Tuesday, city council members voted to table the proposal for three months so that the city and NWA Black Heritage Association could work together to find a different way to preserve properties and create a Black history district.
The city council also plans on doing a tour of the neighborhood to learn more about its history. At Tuesday’s meeting, Killian said she’s ready to work with the city to ensure the preservation of Black history remains a priority in Fayetteville.