Fayetteville Arkansas, University of Arkansas--Old Main Overview

Fayetteville Arkansas, University of Arkansas--Old Main Overview
Overview of Fayetteville, AR

Friday, June 15, 2007

Baseball in Northwest Arkansas is a Natural

A lot has happened since I last wrote about the baseball stadium Springdale voters approved July 11, 2006. The AA team currently known as the Wichita (Kansas) Wranglers is definitely moving to Springdale to start the season in April 2008.

When it arrives, the AA affiliate of the Kansas City Royals will be known as The Northwest Arkansas Naturals. The new name is a reflection of Arkansas’s state motto, “The Natural State” and it also calls attention to the natural beauty of NW Arkansas.

A stunning logo has been designed and approved. It features a mountain range with a cascading waterfall, a whizzing baseball, and an “ N” with a lightning bolt for its diagonal leg. The colors are cardinal red and Royals blue. NW Arkansas has more than 100 naturally occurring waterfalls so the logo continues the theme of The Naturals.

Earthmovers have been very busy at the site, as has the City of Springdale. Plans, negotiations, bidding, budgeting, and changes have kept the city leaders busy. But things are now falling into place.

Bids to construct the stadium itself came in $4.7 million to $13.3 million over budget. Luckily, bids for other necessities such as site preparation, parking lot, and road improvements were all at or under estimate.

The team owner, Rich Baseball Operations, pledged $1.4 million to help meet the shortfall and a few cuts were made from original plans; specifically two party decks, five sky-box suites, and 250 seats. Even after the cuts, the stadium will have 6,250 chair-back seats and 25 boxes. The sky boxes have all been sold and more can be built in the future.

It’s an exciting time for Springdale. I’m sure the stadium will give the city much to be proud of and by broadening the name of the team to The Northwest Arkansas Naturals, the entire area will feel connected to “its” team.

Let’s play ball!

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Friday, June 01, 2007

Roads Must be Improved ASAP

Everyone says NW Arkansas is a wonderful place to live – until they are stuck in the traffic during the daily commute to and from work. At those times of day, most people agree gridlock is not desirable.

Even mid-day, traffic can sometimes be insufferable. The intersection of Joyce Boulevard and North College Avenue in Fayetteville is either the busiest or second-busiest intersection (depending on which statistics you read) in the entire state of Arkansas!

U.S. Highway 412, the main road to Tulsa, runs east-west through Springdale and carries an immense amount of 18-wheelers mixed in with passenger vehicles. It seems there are traffic lights every block or two.

Walton Boulevard in Bentonville resembles a parking lot during the daily commute and lunchtime isn’t much better.

Something must be done to construct/improve/widen roads without further delay.

Many local highways that carry heavy traffic are two-lane roads, turning and twisting through the countryside. If you enjoy a leisurely drive, the roads are beautiful. But if you are trying to get somewhere in a timely manner, that trip can be slow and stressful. Time and money are wasted minute-by-minute and mile-by-mile.

The problem isn’t that the powers-that-be haven’t realized something has to be done. It’s more a problem of money, of course, and location.

Nearly everyone wants the improvements but very few want them in their own backyard.

Springdale has been in lengthy discussions about widening Wagon Wheel Road from Hwy. 71B to I-540. Should it be four lanes with a tree-lined boulevard or five lanes including a left turn lane?

The answer depends on where you live. The commuter wants roads where they will improve his trip. The farmer wants to be able to move his slow-moving equipment from one area to another. Folks in the new subdivisions want aesthetically pleasing surroundings - not sounds of the freeway next door.

Fayetteville is considering widening Mission Boulevard, Township, North, Zion and Hwy. 16 to Elkins and more. These roads wind through neighborhoods crisscrossing the city.

I fear the same fate awaits these projects as befell a similar proposal several years ago when Township Road was proposed as a wider "artery" street. Neighbors vehemently opposed it and the proposal died.

We can play ostrich by burying our heads in the sand or we can face reality. Growth is here and more is on the way. Growth is inevitable and necessary if the area is to continue thriving.

Let’s wake up and smell the exhaust fumes. We will soon be in total gridlock if we don’t take steps to improve the infrastructure. We must prepare!

The City of Springdale deserves commendation for their proactive approach to traffic. They are currently building east-west corridors to help alleviate the strain on U.S. Hwy. 412.

Also on the drawing board is the U.S. 412 bypass. Plans call for Hwy. 412 to go north from west of Tontitown, continue north of Springdale, and then turn south to rejoin Hwy. 412 east of the Springdale city limits. Cost estimates for the bypass are currently in the neighborhood of $350 million. However, no one dares guess when it might actually be built and inflation drives up the cost every month.

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