I got a call early this evening informing me that Mayor Hays had pulled the resolution to allow him to sell Big Rock Quarry. Fox 16 News reported later that the developer had withdrawn their proposal. Channel 4 also reported than Mayor Hays was an investor in a company controlled by the developer, though Hays denied that the business relationship had anything to do with the terms of the Quarry project. I truly hope that is the case. North Little Rock is a small town and it is not surprising that two prominent people share some investments, but the timing of the news put Mayor Hays in a bad light in the context of the land sale proposal.
Also, the Pulaski County Assessor's office valued the land at $5,400,000.00 according to KARK-TV; far above the sketchy appraisal of $1,750,000. that was used when the City offered the property for $1,200,000. I realize that the previous statement didn't make a damn bit of sense, but nothing about this deal made sense for the people of North Little Rock.
This would likely have been a done deal if it had come up for a vote in the last council session. The initial publicity mobilized a group of young North Little Rock gentlemen, notably Andy Hight, Kevin Newsom, and John Crow, who created a Facebook group that went from 0 to over a 1000 members in a day and which brought about 45 concerned folks to a quickly-called meeting at The Joint yesterday afternoon. Members of the city council and the mayor were afforded the opportunity to hear from many voters; the vast majority of whom were against the project and angry that the deal was so far along before the public was made aware of it. We should not have to be wary and suspicious of the workings of our city government, but this case proves that vigilence is required. This was also a great example of democracy at work. The key to a successful democracy is an informed population and, once informed of the bargain-basement sale of this valued piece of public property, the people made their collective voice heard. When I first got wind of this resolution, I will admit that I had little hope of that it could be stopped.Thank you, folks. Now, let's get to work and make the Big Rock Quarry into a park.
Ain't America great?