Concerned citizens requested back-up via the nextdoor app...Clarke is answering the call.
A call for help went out over social media on Friday, August 21st when Rogers City Council approved voting on an amendment to City Code to make way for a new apartment complex in accordance with its Density Concept Plan. Area residents fear it will contribute to the downturn of a group of neighborhoods already plagued with high traffic volume, poor infrastructure, and decreasing property values.
“Fix our roads, street lights, street signs, and other overlooked items in our city before you consider adding more people to the area...And -- Add safer crosswalk options for our kids attending Reagan Elementary!”
City Council Candidate Aaron Clarke spoke out against the existing Council's disregard for underprivileged communities in their city, and about the residents' intent to fight back.
Read Clarke's full statement below:
August 24, 2020
To the Council,
You all may not be aware of me, of my work, or that of my organization, Bridge the Gap NWA. You may be (however unlikely) unaware of the many hardships faced by less fortunate members of this community. You may well believe that the city’s Density Concept Plan is being used to great effect and popular among Rogers residents.
You would be wrong, but here we are.
I do not believe that you are unaware of the 60 or so statements of opposition you received to the Tallgrass Developers, Inc project at 40th and Olive Streets. I believe you do not care about the opposition to it. I do not believe you are unaware of the area’s need for infrastructural repairs to its roads, streetlights, and signs, nor am I convinced of your failure to understand the potential damage to property values there. I believe you do not see such improvements and preservative concerns as valid because the people lodging those concerns do not look or speak like you.
As an activist I put my community first. Its development and wellbeing are my bread and butter. This council’s acceptance of the ordinance suspension with regard to 40th & Olive is simply not in the community’s best interest.
I have no intention of allowing this development to go forward without my opposition made plain on behalf of the many concerned residents of Whispering Timbers, Cambridge Park, and the combined Scottsdale Center neighborhoods. Let me be clear in stating that these people hold no opposition to the betterment of Rogers, to the continued development of housing city-wide, or to the opportunity to grow with this city, but they are not pleased with your blithe dismissal of their concerns in the interest of population growth for tax revenue-sake alone. And what will you gain by this? Will decreasing home values in the area brought on by traffic congestion and untended infrastructure repair needs not negate the potential benefit of added bodies? Rogers has been, and remains, in a slow decline of homeownership for several years. Is this not of concern to you in the current national climate?
The Density Concept Plan can be a powerful tool for community betterment if used thoughtfully, but you do not appear to be giving much thought to the concerns of your voters. Used improperly, it has the potential to create ghettos in a city otherwise well planned and cared for. I hope you see the potential for real damage to entire communities this poses. I hope you are thinking of the many underprivileged people affected by some of your former decisions. I wonder if you have really considered the effects of some of your recent decisions on those people. I wonder if I should be more specific to jog your memory, and whether it would be worth my time tonight.
You all may not be aware of me, but the voters of Ward 1 are. I have no wish to make your job more difficult; only better applied to those who cannot afford to miss work in order to be here tonight. I am running for City Council Ward 1, Position 2, but I am also one of the many people who have learned what the words “housing insecure” mean during this pandemic. No one here wants to see fewer people given the opportunity to live in this great city, but we do want to see the people who live here taken care of. I do not believe his use of the Density Concept Plan bears the proper care of Rogers residents in mind, and the 60+ people – leaving aside those here tonight – who lodged protest to this development before me do not either.
This is Our City, Our Home, and we say “No.”
Aaron William Clarke
Co-Founder, Bridge the Gap NWA
Candidate for Rogers City Council Ward 1, Position 2
For more on Aaron's Our City, Our Home Platform, visit our Platform page!