I urge each one of you to be mindful of the City Plan 2030 when considering sweeping changes in building ordinance or committing to large infrastructure investments, such as the Rupple Road 4-lane extension. Recalling the first two goals of the City Plan 2025 and the 2030 Update:
Goal 1 — We will make appropriate infill and revitalization our highest priorities.
Goal 2 — We will discourage suburban sprawl.
I have grown increasingly concerned with the insidious erosion of the City Plan 2025 and the 2030 Update. An enormous amount of thought and effort, hundreds and hundreds of community volunteer hours, not to mention the city’s investment that went into the development and execution of those plans.
I urge policy leaders to consider running important decisions such as the recent restrictions on downtown redevelopment, and the Rupple Road 4-lane extension through what I’ll refer to as the “City Plan filter” to qualify if the decision is consistent with Fayetteville’s highest goals as stated above and which was decided by the community at large, twice. I urge policy leaders to ask yourself prior to rendering decisions such as sweeping changes in building ordinance or large infrastructure investment, “Will this decision send a consistent or inconsistent message to the development community regarding our highest goals above?”
I would argue that the Rupple Road 4-lane extension is an erosion of our highest goals as stated in the City Plan 2030, and sends a mixed message to the development community for where and what type of development we wish to see in the future. While I agree with the Rupple Road extension to Martin Luther King Blvd., I agree with alderman Matthew Petty that this extension should not be built-out as a 4-lane in anticipation of a future that may not be realized within a reasonable timeframe.
In fact, the trends collectively conspire against the need for a 4-lane Rupple Road, such as: 1. demographic changes since the last census, 2. market desire for living in urban walkable city center, 3. declining suburban allure as evidenced by flat property values since 2007, 4. declining automobile ownership, 5. reduction in vehicle miles traveled. All of these trends point toward a less and less roads future. Recalling the forces that drove the expansion of the suburbs post WWII and lead to the urban blight of the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s — good ole fashioned free market desire. That same transformational force is underway in cities across the U.S. People are flocking in droves to live in walkable urban cores. Those cities that align policy, and infrastructure investment, that leverage the largest immutable force of free market desire, they will go farther and be the places that attract the best and brightest. Those cities that send mixed messages, that dilute their vision through an erosion of misplaced ordinance and misplaced infrastructure investment — well, they will not be nearly as desirable for where people want to live.
Consistent with the vision of the City Plan 2030, as well as alderman Matthew Petty’s proposal — please take those misplaced infrastructure dollars on the 4-lane version for Rupple Road, and spend that $1.7 million on revitalizing our main commercial corridor, College Avenue instead.
Mikel C. Lolley