Town and Gown Advisory Committee holds first meeting

The Town and Gown Advisory Committee met Monday inside the Genesis Technology Incubator’s AT&T Conference Room at the Arkansas Research and Technology Park in Fayetteville.

Photo: Todd Gill, Flyer staff

The Fayetteville City’s Council’s 21-member Town and Gown Advisory Committee met for the first time on Monday. The group spent a majority of the meeting introducing members, drawing lots for citizen appointees, electing a chairman and secretary, and deciding when to hold regular meetings going forward.

Following the procedural first steps, committee members took some time to identify a few specific issues to address in the coming months.

Election of chair and secretary

The group selected Tommy Deweese as committee chairman and Diane Warren as committee secretary and vice-chair. Deweese is a long-time Fayetteville resident who recently retired after 42 years of service with SWEPCO. Warren is a local attorney and a trained mediator.

Frequency of meetings

Committee member Mike Johnson, associate vice chancellor for facilities at the University of Arkansas, suggested the group meet monthly through the end of the year before transitioning to quarterly meetings in 2013. Meetings will be held Nov. 19 and Dec. 17 this year, and will then be held on the third Monday of the first month of each quarter beginning in January.

Jordan and Gearhart discuss student housing issues

Mayor Lioneld Jordan said a “zoning overlay district” in the areas surrounding the University of Arkansas is something he’d like to see the committee begin to explore. Establishing such a district is one approach cities often take to try and alleviate land use and development concerns in neighborhoods near universities.

University of Arkansas Chancellor G. David Gearhart speaks to members of the Town and Gown Advisory Committee.

Staff photo

“What I’m hearing a lot from citizens is that a lot of developments are going on in the neighborhoods and they’re concerned about the quality of life in those neighborhoods,” said Jordan. He said being able to bridge the gap between city and university planning could help ease the anxiety some residents experience when new apartment complexes are planned in or near their neighborhoods.

Jordan said one of the questions he’s been asked recently is whether the university is planning to build more student housing on campus.

UA Chancellor G. David Gearhart said other than adding a total of about 600 beds to Hotz and Founders halls, there are no immediate plans to build any new student housing facilities.

“About 10 years ago, we had more beds than we had heads, and we weren’t filling out dormitories,” said Gearhart. “We don’t ever want to get to a position where that happens again, so we’re being very cautious about how much we build.”

Gearhart said he hopes the city deals with private student housing proposals in a similar manner.

“We like the fact that we don’t have to build the dormitories – that it’s being done privately – that’s a good thing,” he said. “What we are concerned about is overbuilding private facilities.”

But, he said, that could all change very quickly, especially considering the growth the university is experiencing. Gearhart said he expects enrollment to reach 28,000 by 2015.

First items of business

When the group meets on Nov. 19, the first item of business will be to discuss the closing of Dickson Street west of Duncan Avenue when school is in session.

University officials are concerned about pedestrian safety with so many students crossing the street, and with new classrooms being built in the area.

Committee members will also hear brief presentations from the city and university about each group’s long-range master growth plans.

Town & Gown Advisory Committee

Community members
Mark Kinion – Ward 2 Alderman
Barry Herzog – Ward 1 resident
Diane Warren – Ward 2 resident
Tommy Deweese – Ward 3 resident
Ryan Miller – Ward 4 resident
Joseph Kieklak – University of Arkansas student*
Steve Clark – business owner/development community representative
* Kieklak resigned before Monday’s meeting. A new UA student will be nominated in December.

City of Fayetteville representatives
David Dayringer – Fire
Yolanda Fields – Development Services/Community Services
Terry Gulley* – Transportation
David Jurgens* – Utilities
Don Marr – Mayor’s office
Jeremy Pate – Development Services
Greg Tabor – Police
Sharon Waters – Parking
* Only one representative will be considered a voting member at a time

University of Arkansas representatives
Melissa Harwood-Rom – Division of Student Affairs
Richard Hudson – Government Relations
Mike Johnson – Facilities Management
Bev Lewis – Athletics
Danny Pugh – Chancellor’s office
Tori Pohlner – Associated Student Government
Gary Smith – Transit and Parking