Cities: July 2006 Archives

Andy Donovan-Shead sends along a couple of interesting solutions for keeping cities green while accommodating the built environment:

Rubber sidewalks made from recycled tires (Chips, naturally) are better able to accommodate growing trees without the usual heaving and cracking of concrete walks. The downside: Higher initial cost, but with the benefit of saving valuable shade trees, and the material handles temperature extremes.

Green roofs are sprouting all over Chicago, starting with City Hall. Grass and trees on rooftops help reduce stormwater runoff and clean and cool the air.

I'm reminded of the concept of permeable driveways -- using a minimal amount of solid material to make for a stable surface for cars to drive and park on, but allowing as much grass as possible, which again reduces stormwater runoff and reduces heat. If you have a driveway long enough, it's going to crack and grass will start growing through it anyway. Anyone know if this sort of thing would meet the Tulsa zoning code's requirement for parking on an "all-weather" surface?

A week from Tuesday, Springdale, Arkansas, citizens will vote on a tax package to build a $46 million AA-quality minor league baseball stadium in the southwestern part of the city. According to the Grand Slam for Springdale website, a AA team would relocate to Springdale if a new park is built. (I'm guessing Texas League, as there are three TL teams nearby -- Tulsa, Springfield, Mo., and Little Rock.)

Northwest Arkansas is a booming area and could support a minor league baseball team. The region's prosperity has three pillars: Wal-Mart, poultry, and trucking. Wal-Mart's world HQ has attracted sales reps for hundreds of manufacturers to the northern part of the metro area, in Bentonville and Rogers, where whole neighborhoods of McMansions are springing up in what used to be hog pastures and chicken farms.

Hilly, green Fayetteville, anchoring the southern end of the region, is the cultural center, home to the University of Arkansas. The city has grown, but in a less dramatic fashion, and with more of an eye to preserving its historic neighborhoods and college-town walkability.

Springdale, in between, has always been a homely place. Food processing and trucking are the main industries. A tiny remnant of a downtown is surrounded by ugly '70s strip development. At the crossroads of US 412 and US 62, it's on the way to lots of places, but not much of a destination.

So a ballpark could be a good thing for Springdale and the region, but it's interesting to see the proponents of the stadium trot out the same old tactics. The website tells voters to say yes to three propositions, but doesn't explain what those propositions will accomplish. (It appears to be a refinancing of revenue bonds for an existing sales tax for roads, and the sales tax would be extended to generate enough to build a stadium.)

There was a feasibility study done by Conventions, Sports, and Leisure, International -- the same bunch that did the feasibility study for Tulsa's arena -- which claims that the stadium will result in 300 new jobs and $600,000 in new "revenues" to the city, in the form of increased sales taxes and stadium lease payments. The website doesn't bother to say how much the city's net income will increase if at all -- no word about the expense side of the ledger.

The targeted team is reported to be the Wichita Wranglers, which plays in Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, just across the Arkansas River from downtown Wichita. Wichita has the right to buy the team if the Wranglers break their stadium lease before its 2009 expiration.

The latest big development appears to be the defection of Rev. Ronnie Floyd, pastor of First Baptist Church, Springdale, who no longer supports the stadium because beer will be sold there. Perhaps he really fears the baseball team will be entertainment competition for his kids' church with its fire engine baptistery. (Here is a rather lengthy comment thread on the propriety of Floyd's endorsement in the first place and the sincerity of his reversal.)

I don't in the least begrudge Springdale a minor league team, but we are talking about an entertainment venue that will be competing against restaurants, theatres, concerts, and nightclubs for regional entertainment dollars. It seems like the private sector ought to be jumping at the chance to build such a facility if it really were economically feasible.

MORE: Meanwhile, there are plans for a privately-funded 9,000 seat arena in Bentonville. Global Spectrum (bypassed for Tulsa's BOk center) would manage the facility, and the arena owners would own the minor-league sports teams that would play there.)

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Cities category from July 2006.

Cities: June 2006 is the previous archive.

Cities: September 2006 is the next archive.

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