Aldermen reject Park West cost-share contract

The proposed cost-share agreement between Park West, LLC and the city of Fayetteville was denied by the City Council on Tuesday in a 4-3 vote.

The no-bid contract to reroute Highway 112 would have allocated $2.15 million in city funds, which would cover a quarter of the project, and Tracy Hoskins, president of the development agency Paradigm Companies Inc., would pay for the other quarter. The remaining half of the plan would have been paid for at a later date, once the city had the funds.

Ward 4 Alderman Sarah Lewis voted against the ordinance, citing that the contract was a “big gamble” and there was no guarantee that the project would ever be completed.

Alderman Brenda Thiel also voted “no” to the proposal. She said she understood the benefits of the cost-share agreement, but there were still too many unknowns regarding cost estimates.

Aldermen Bobby Ferrell, Matthew Petty and Robert Rhodes voted in favor of the contract.

Ferrell, who is the Street Committee chair, said the contract was “a good deal for the city” and could generate economic growth. He added that the recent economic downturn did not deter him from supporting the measure.

“Our economy is going to recover,” Ferrell said. “We’re not dead in the water.”

Alderman Matthew Petty, who represents Ward 2, also voted in favor of the proposal.

“One way or the other, 112 is going to be improved,” he said. Petty reasoned that property owners in the area would be affected by the reroute of the highway no matter how the city chose to approach the road improvements.

The plan would have redirected Highway 112 to cut through Park West, a 140-acre development owned by Hoskins.

Members of the community were given the chance to voice their opinion on the matter, and the majority of those who went to the microphone were opposed to the measure.

Bio-Tech Pharmacal Inc., a company that owns 33 acres of land near Highway 112, would be adversely affected if the proposal were passed, said Marti Benedict, a spokesperson for the company. The new patch of highway would add exhaust fumes, forcing the pharmaceutical manufacturer to purchase costly air-filter equipment, she said.

Resident Sharon Davidson also had concerns about the project, including the negative impact on the environment and the potential to get locked-in to the deal.

“Why are we allowing a developer’s desire to dictate our road engineering?” she asked.

Because the council rejected the contract, the upgrades of Arkansas 112 will revert back to the master street plan.

Park West is a development planned on Arkansas 112 which will feature shops, offices and apartments.