Saturday, July 21, 2007

West Fayetteville growth annoys some

The Fayetteville public hearings menu frequently includes much business concerning west Fayetteville. From Wedington Avenue four-laning to the city limit along west Highway 16 towards Lake Wedington to Planned Zoning Districts like Woodstock development, the region has begun to explode in terms of growth. Woodstock and the Lindsey development at the NE corner of Rupple and Wedington are moving along in the approval process with objections from Cross Keys Property Owners Association at a recent subdivision committee meeting according the the NWA Times, in a July 13 article. Fieldstone POA president expressed a displeasure at the prospect of "a new Dickson Street." The project includes 100,000 sf of commercial space and 382 residences along Wedington from 46th St. to Broyles Avenue, near the construction site of the new wastewater treatment facility built just to the south of the proposed development, according to the Morning News in a July 21 front-page article. The Lindsey development including a golf course and, I assume, the patented Lindsey fountain certain to contain a green coloring for the water, will include 604 apartment units, and a community park.

New businesses recently welcomed to the area are Hunan Manor and their wonderful new dish, Crab Rangoon (offered to expand the menu for the new building). The building is certainly a nice addition to the west side of 540 along Wedington. Over the past few years, Harps has opened a store, Penguin Ed's, at the interesection of Double Springs and Wedington after the Boar's Nest, owned by proprietors of Willy D's on Dickson, Picasso's, and Taco Bell across from Sonic on Colorado. Banks have found their way en masse to the area, with Bank of the Ozarks located near the Arkansas National Bank and the Arvest Bank. Bank of Fayetteville has a branch and Metropolitan National Bank on the SE corner of Rupple and Wedington seems poise to open very soon. Ozarks Electirc seems to be planning an expansion on their lot, asking for approval of a rezoning of 44.36 acres from RA/RO to I-1, Heavy Commercial/Light Industrial status. New streets in some of the new subdivisions are bizarre at best, with an area along Meadowlands named after Englis-language poets such as Tennyson, Wordsworth, and Keats. Just to the west of that development is a subdivision with golf-themed names for its streets, though the closest golf courses are in Farmington and along Deane Solomon, but Lindsey's development hopes to remedy that problem. Mulligan, Flagstick, and Wedge are some of those street names.

The northwest quadrant is certainly experiencing its share of growth near the Deane Solomon course to all sides. Sam's Club is to be relocated this fall to Garland Ave./Highway 112 across from Fayetteville Auto Park and talk of building a new high school for Fayetteville school district would certainly stamp that part of the city as the champion of growth in the city limit and all of Sam's tax revenues will be for the Fayetteville schools, unlike the area of the NWA Mall. Construction from the Mall of an improved Van Asche cutting all the way to 112 from Gregg Ave. is certainly going to open the flood gates of growth in the area.

The vicinity near Clabber Creek has a new trail section and plenty of its own growing pains as developers try to open heretofore dead-end streets for use by their new developments, thus bringing much despised high traffic counts to the neighborhood. The new Owl Creek elementary caused a fire-storm of opposition by community elementary school proponents in Fayetteville, and the possible relocation of the high school to the NW quadrant of the city has heated the same opposition. The city chimed in that it would like to see the high school to remain near the UA campus. School boards are free of city constraint, however, so not much can be done by the city council.

As growth seems to slow down statistically, not much evidence of that is to be found in west Fayetteville, though there are still many unsold new structures in the area and new starts on residential construction are certainly slowed. The Rupple Row development across from the Boys and Girls Club seems to be progressing steadily. The development from the west side of Rupple Road to the north of Wedington to the end of Patrick St. has only a few new constructions behind Plum Tree Ave. homes.

West Fayetteville is set to explode within ten years and no one will recognize the place. I hope we can do a better job of managing the sprawl than cities of the past who experienced similar growing pains . New connections to Farmington from Wedington to Highway 62 will change the complexion of the are particularly if Mountain Ranch development ever gets fully off the ground. I hope we're all happy with the result, but past anecdotes of this sort of change are rarely all good.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Spring, early summer report

This spring and early summer to date, my yard has hosted all sorts of bird life. I serve my bird friends sunflower seeds year-round, since my home in western Fayetteville seems to be getting a bit more crowded by development. My bird friends have increasingly lost habitat the past decade since I moved here. Mockingbirds, cardinals, robins, grackles, mourning doves, and wrens have all nested in my yard so far this season. For the first time since I've lived here, I have seen 2 turtle doves, distinctive by their larger size than mourning doves and lighter coloration along with a black stripe across the nape of the neck. It's been nice to see those beautiful creatures visit my yard. The only tragic occurrence this season was the unfortunate hawk attack on the first mockingbird nest in the seedling juniper. One mockingbird chick was taken away to become hawk dinner. The hawk thanked me by shitting a huge mess all over my patio door.

The mockingbirds moved their nest to the larger juniper from which the seedling arose. I spotted two mockingbird juveniles in the yard, so some life survived the nesting. Juvenile cardinals and robins spent time in the yard. A robin mother and her brood of four robin chicks each took a turn charging the aggressive mockingbird after it attacked them at the bird bath as they foraged and watered before darkness. Was a sight to see four robin chicks challenging a mockingbird just like they saw their mother. The rain has wreaked havoc on some varieties of tomatoes I've planted this spring, but my patio varieties seem to be thriving. This much rainfall has not been seen in NW Arkansas since about 6 years ago, a season I remember for all the miles of kayaking I enjoyed so late in the season for 3-5 years consecutively before the 6 year drought in June/July. On my last trip, Frog Bayou and the ample surfing opportunities afforded along the 12 mile stretch I once frequented was rolling quite nicely that day. I endured a severe sunburn on my face and the pigshit farmers in the region dump on their fields attracted gnat-like insects for much of the trip, but the water was perfect. Crawford County has one nice jewel in Frog Bayou, particularly during the winter when it seems to hold water rather well and is a pleasant January paddle trip.

Arkansas is one of the great places in America to enjoy the outdoors, whether outside your back door in the city, or floating Hailstone/Extreme upper Buffalo in the middle of the Buffalo River wilderness near Fallsville (where the Rainbow are gathering this past week) to Boxley on one of the most gorgeous stretches of river in this great state. I miss my free time I once enjoyed that allowed me the time to plan and actually go on kayaking trips. These days I spend more time running and riding my bike for outdoor leisure and additional exercise. Arkansans who opt not to enjoy the natural outdoor opportunities are missing out on the most important aspects of being an Arkansan. I grew up in a traditional Arkansas family where hunting and fishing was a favorite diversion. I knew few kids when I was growing up who didn't enjoy the Arkansas outdoors in some way. I glad I've been fortunate enough to survive long enough to truly experience the outdoor life of the Ozarks. The land and the woods are the stage for our lives and few of us slow down to ponder how important the outdoors has been to the life of our species over the years.

In my hometown, Clovis(arrived circa 12,500 years BP) sites of some of the earliest inhabitants in Arkansas have been surveyed and unearthed. Nearby were unearthed remains of Confederate war dead in a foolish frontal attack on many well-placed batteries and a Yankee gunboat. Some of my relatives live very close to these sites. I have walked these sites of the various batteries built by Federal engineers and laboring soldiers. Our state is alive with the past and folks who are born to this state or who have relocated to this state should make themselves aware of the significance of many areas of the state. Unfortunately, NW Arkansas seems not to care much about the rest of the state and that is a pity. We have a rich history and traditions which should be observed by citizens from all corners of Arkansas. We are a small, relatively poor state with need of cohesion and single-minded devotion to improving our home.

Ancient Arkansas was teeming with wildlife and chert sources for indigenous peoples and frog-hunting the St. Francis River, or Big Creek I was surrounded by ancient hunting villages and burned char pits where fires were kept millennia ago. You can close your eyes and briefly connect to those hunter-gatherers who survived by the slimmest of margins. We're not much different these days it seems.