Mayor, Chamber, Labor Council oppose litigation against Walton Arts Center

The City of Fayetteville may have a case for litigation to prevent the Walton Arts Center from expanding in Bentonville, but such action wouldn’t be supported by the University, the Mayor, the Chamber, or the NWA Labor Council.

Mayor Lioneld Jordan made it clear that he is not interested in pursuing legal action against the Walton Arts Center in a letter to University of Arkansas Chancellor G. David Gearhart on Monday.

“I agree with you that a lawsuit against a board of volunteer citizens would be counter-productive, and it would not be in the best interest of Fayetteville, our vibrant arts community, or our creative economy,” said Jordan in the letter. “It could jeopardize fundraising and delay construction of the additional 600-seat theater space on the current WAC campus, and other improvements in the Dickson Street area that links our City and the Univeristy.”

A lawsuit against a board of volunteer citizens would be counter-productive, and it would not be in the best interest of Fayetteville…

—Mayor Lioneld Jordan

Jordan was responding to a letter he received from Gearhart last week indicating that the University opposed any legal action against the performing arts center.

The Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors adopted a resolution on Monday night in response to the Walton Arts Center’s expansion announcement that echoed Jordan’s statement.

Stephen Smith, President of the Northwest Arkansas Labor Council, also opposed any legal action in a letter to Mayor Jordan on Tuesday.

“Not only would litigation be very expensive, but it would also delay the proposed construction of both theaters and adjacent parking facilities indefinitely,” Smith wrote. “These projects would expand the cultural opportunities available in Northwest Arkansas and would create hundreds of jobs for our members and other workers in the building trades. Litigation would be counterproductive to both of these goals shared by our membership.”

Legal action could still be initiated by the Fayetteville City Council, but Mayor Jordan reiterated that he would not support such an action this afternoon.

“The council is the council, and I can’t speak for the council,” Jordan told us. “I just know I could not in good conscience support litigation against the [WAC] board. That would not be in the best interest of Fayetteville.”

» View Mayor Jordan’s letter to Chancellor Gearhart (PDF)
» View the statement from the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce
» View Stephen Smith’s letter to Mayor Jordan (PDF)