Bi­cy­cle track among planned im­prove­ments

Project to con­nect neigh­bor­hoods

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - STACY RYBURN

FAYET­TEVILLE — Res­i­dents who live near Gul­ley Park soon will have a twoway bi­cy­cle track to go along with a num­ber of on­go­ing im­prove­ments on Old Wire Road.

The City Coun­cil on Tues­day passed 8-0 a match­ing grant with the Wal­ton Fam­ily Foun­da­tion to build the bike track from Ash Street to the park. The foun­da­tion’s com­mit­ment of up to $1.3 mil­lion will split the cost with the city.

The grant pay­ment will come in two in­stall­ments once the city ac­quires the right of way and once half the con­struc­tion is fin­ished. The project should be com­pleted within two years.

Jeremy Pate with the Wal­ton Fam­ily Foun­da­tion said the track will im­prove qual­ity of life through ac­tive trans­porta­tion and pro­vide safety to bi­cy­clists, pedes­tri­ans and mo­torists.

“I per­son­ally have taken my chil­dren on bike to Gul­ley Park for Gul­ley Park shows,” he said. “At times it’s dan­ger­ous and I never did it again. How­ever, this will cor­rect that.”

The track will stretch just short of a mile along the east side of Old Wire Road. The two-way path for bi­cy­cles will be 8 ½ feet wide with a 6-footwide side­walk next to it. The track will sep­a­rate bi­cy­clists from mo­torists with lights and flat stone di­viders and a buf­fer strip will lie be­tween the track and side­walk.

Bi­cy­cle-spe­cific sig­nals will be at the in­ter­sec­tion with Town­ship Street. Mark­ings and pro­tected cross­ings will go in other spots along the cor­ri­dor.

Mayor Lioneld Jor­dan thanked the foun­da­tion and city staff for work­ing to­gether to make the project pos­si­ble.

“This has been, truly, a re­ally good part­ner­ship,” he said.

Work to redo the in­ter­sec­tion at Old Wire Road and Mis­sion Boule­vard wrapped up ear­lier this year. Im­prove­ment to Old Wire Road from Mis­sion to Ash Street should fin­ish in the fall. Fea­tures in­clude wider side­walks, a trail, bi­cy­cle lanes and a left turn lane at Ash. The city’s trans­porta­tion bond pro­gram paid for those projects.

In other busi­ness, the coun­cil ap­proved re­zon­ing about 11 acres at Rolling Hills Drive and Old Mis­souri Road. The re­zon­ing will open a por­tion of the wooded area to com­mer­cial and res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ment.

Coun­cil mem­bers took a tour of the area Mon­day. The por­tion of re­zoned land doesn’t touch the prop­erty line with But­ter­field Trail El­e­men­tary School, nor does it in­clude the highly vis­i­ble Keenan Tower House.

Alder­woman Sarah Bunch of Ward 3 said the re­zon­ing pro­motes in­fill and will con­nect neigh­bor­hoods to ameni­ties.

“I think this re­zon­ing will be the cat­a­lyst that will start us down the road of bet­ter con­nec­tiv­ity for all of the area over there,” she said.

A draft of the city’s mo­bil­ity plan up­date sug­gests con­nect­ing Rolling Hills to Cross­over Road. That po­ten­tial project would re­quire sep­a­rate coun­cil ac­tion and no time or money has been set for it, Plan­ning Di­rec­tor An­drew Garner said.

Jor­dan also an­nounced the first meet­ing for the Com­pen­sa­tion Study Com­mit­tee set for 4:30 p.m. July 31. Sev­eral po­lice of­fi­cers and fire­fight­ers re­quested the com­mit­tee be formed dur­ing a some­times heated March coun­cil meet­ing to ad­dress pay raises for city em­ploy­ees.

Half the City Coun­cil, po­lice and fire rep­re­sen­ta­tives, and city of­fi­cials will sit on the com­mit­tee. A mar­ket study re­leased this year showed the city’s po­lice and fire­fight­ers, who are on a step pay sys­tem, trailed the re­gional rate by 15.6 per­cent and 12.5 per­cent, re­spec­tively.

Jor­dan said the com­mit­tee will dis­cuss ways to ad­just the pay plan without sig­nif­i­cantly cut­ting ser­vices.

“I hope we just have a good, thor­ough discussion and we come to a res­o­lu­tion to this,” he said.

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