Editorial: It’s time to turn all the discussion into action

An open letter to the Russellville City Council:

We have no reason to think that you read The Arka Tech. If, however, a copy of this finds its way to any of you aldermen, we have a request to make. On second thought, let’s make it a plea:

Build the sidewalk.

Of course, we are talking about the proposed sidewalk leading from campus to Vista Place apartments. The project has been the topic of a great deal of discussion. Isn’t it time for some action?

Our readers may remember a front page story in this newspaper, back in October, about plans for the project. Now, some four months or so later, a bit of progress, but only a bit, has been made.

A hearing was held Tuesday evening to gather public comment on the proposal. We hope city officials paid close attention to our president, Dr. Robin Bowen, who spoke of the safety concerns for those students who make a regular journey on foot or on bike from Vista Place to our campus.

We urge you to note that we are not talking about a handful of students. Right now Tech leases 248 beds at Vista Place, and that number will rise to 288 this fall.

Add the number of students in non-Tech housing that live in the same neighborhood and clearly we are talking about a number of students who find themselves potentially in harm’s way every time they make that journey to class.

Bowen said at the hearing that she does not want to ever have to call parents to tell them their child has been injured.

We should also point out to you that Bowen said much the same thing earlier this semester. In meetings with faculty and staff members before classes began for this spring semester, she noted the importance of the project and her concern for the safety of our students.

Yes, we understand concerns of property owners along the route. We do not take those concerns lightly. We understand drainage issues and all the other concerns that have been addressed. But as all of you who serve on the city council might guess, we consider the safety of our fellow students to be of primary concern.

As aldermen, we know you need to approve the plans, whichever final shape or form they may take, for actual construction to begin.

So how about this? Let’s not put this matter off any longer. How about placing the project on your Feb. 18 agenda? Yes, we also know you have many issues facing you on a regular basis.

But this issue, the safety of our students (and your students as well, when you think about it), needs to be addressed with the sense of urgency it deserves.

We need to move past the talking stage as quickly as possible because we believe the sidewalk is absolutely essential for the safety of our students.

It is time to build the sidewalk.

Respectfully,
The Arka Tech