Courts com­plex choice fails long-term test

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - EDITORIAL PAGE -

It is un­for­tu­nate the new county courts com­plex is go­ing to be built in down­town Ben­tonville. The money ex­pended on the site study for the South­west 14th Street lo­ca­tion was a waste of tax­payer funds. That lo­ca­tion was never given se­ri­ous con­sid­er­a­tion de­spite be­ing a bet­ter long-term so­lu­tion.

There ex­ists a mis­taken be­lief that the courts com­plex drives the down­town eco­nomic en­gine. I would ar­gue the op­po­site. Con­struc­tion is go­ing to af­fect busi­nesses. Traf­fic con­ges­tion will be a long-term prob­lem. Dis­rup­tion to court op­er­a­tions will oc­cur, and long term con­se­quences of the de­ci­sion will be­come ev­i­dent. It makes no sense from the stand­point of long-term strate­gic ur­ban plan­ning. The mix­ture of neigh­bor­hoods, recre­ational ar­eas, stores, restau­rants, etc., does not co-ex­ist or ben­e­fit from a courts com­plex and park­ing garage. Ju­di­cial com­plexes are more ef­fi­cient when cen­tral­ized, al­low­ing for sav­ings on man­power and trans­porta­tion costs, en­hance­ment of se­cu­rity, and room for ex­pan­sion. The down­town lo­ca­tion ac­com­plishes none of this.

The ini­tial over­all sav­ings may amount to sev­eral mil­lion dol­lars, but 15 to 20 years from now, the same is­sue of in­ad­e­quate space will be re­vis­ited. Vi­sion­ary plan­ning thinks ahead to the fu­ture, rec­og­niz­ing long-term needs and ob­jec­tives. I don’t see that hap­pen­ing with this de­ci­sion. MARK BERNTHAL Bella Vista

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