Siloam Springs Herald Leader - - OPINION - From: David E. Allen Siloam Springs

Don’t make same mis­take twice

I am deeply con­cerned that our elected city board of di­rec­tors is about to vote in fa­vor of leas­ing the old post of­fice in down­town Siloam Springs, with plans to even­tu­ally sell the build­ing. A con­tract has been ne­go­ti­ated to lease the build­ing to a bicycle store

“Phat Tire” which has other lo­ca­tions in

North­west Arkansas.

For one, this build­ing was ac­quired from the fed­eral govern­ment in 2001, as a do­na­tion to the city, with the only re­quire­ment be­ing that the city pre­serve the beau­ti­ful mu­rals which de­picts scenic life in the U.S. The orig­i­nal thought was to use it for a mu­seum, which cer­tainly lends it­self with the mu­rals and the his­tory of the build­ing (it was built in the ‘40s). Even though the mu­seum has de­cided against the pos­si­bil­ity of mov­ing the mu­seum now, it makes no sense to “lock up” the use of the build­ing for any other city depart­ment, or for the po­ten­tial of the mu­seum us­ing it down the road, whether for bring­ing in trav­el­ing ex­hibits or other uses.

I am also sur­prised that our city would get be­hind bring­ing in a busi­ness that com­petes with other lo­cally-owned busi­nesses, just be­cause a group of cy­clists en­joy shop­ping at Phat Tire. If this is the case, let them shop at their other lo­ca­tions! A store owned by non-lo­cals is not go­ing to keep the prof­its here. Those who have not lived in or around Siloam Springs be­fore 2001 are not aware of the im­por­tance of the old post of­fice to the ac­tiv­ity of the cit­i­zens.

This build­ing was the heart­beat of the down­town, and in fact, of the en­tire city. The city board made a huge mis­take in sell­ing the build­ing in 2005. The sit­u­a­tion that came af­ter that sale was a dis­as­ter. For­tu­nately, we got it back when I was mayor in 2011. We do not need this build­ing to be out of the hands of the cit­i­zens of Siloam Springs. The city re­cently had a 3/8-cent sales tax passed to be spent for “qual­ity of life.” Isn’t the preser­va­tion of the city’s his­tory more im­por­tant than build­ing a splash pad in the park? I en­cour­age you to con­tact any of the city board mem­bers (info is on the web­site at www. siloam­springs.com) and at­tend the June 6 city board meet­ing, held at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall, and voice your con­cerns at the podium.

Why aren’t we ask­ing ques­tions

It was re­ported in The Her­ald-Leader on May 10 that the city was to host a “Pub­lic In­put and Feed­back Pro­gram” on May 11 re­gard­ing the plan­ning and con­struc­tion of the land around the new Siloam Springs li­brary site. The pur­pose of the pub­lic in­put was to al­low res­i­dents to in­flu­ence and be in­formed on how our tax dol­lars are to be spent on im­prove­ments to the land area around the li­brary.

City com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager Hol­land Hay­den said that the meet­ing would not be a ques­tion and an­swer ses­sion by con­cerned cit­i­zens in or­der for the cit­i­zens to gain a clearer vi­sion of what was pro­posed for the land area around the new li­brary.

My main con­cern about the con­struc­tion in this area would be the safety and the phys­i­cal in­tegrity of Twin Springs, which is one of only two his­tor­i­cal land­marks still in­tact in Siloam Springs.

My ques­tion is — How can the pub­lic be in­formed by the city of the con­cerns of the cit­i­zens about the fu­ture of the new plans for the Twin Springs Park with­out ask­ing ques­tions of those in charge?

In clos­ing, if we de­stroy our past, then we have no fu­ture!

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