WLR Residents Say $50K In Taxpayer Funds Wasted In Roundabout Design

- LITTLE ROCK, AR - A Little Rock city councilman says there are a long list of projects that need funding in west Little Rock after residents in Pleasant Valley rejected a roundabout.

Brad Cazort, board of directors for Ward 4, said Monday the city will go back to residents with other options for projects totaling approximately $500,000 in the near future.

Rob McConnell lives near the intersection of Pleasant Valley Drive and Arkansas Valley Drive in west Little Rock.  He says residents, including himself, voiced strong opposition to a proposed roundabout earlier this month.

"You're not solving what the true problem is, speed," McConnell says.

McConnell adds most residents were unaware the project was slated for construction until design plans were revealed at the April 8 meeting.

"I feel that's a huge waste of taxpayer money," McConnell says.

Little Rock Public Works spent approximately $50,000 on an engineering design for the roundabout, according to director Jon Honeywell.

"We proceeded with the design at the point the board passed this," Honeywell says. "So in my opinion yes it was a good allocation of taxpayer money because that project was proceeding."

The money for projects in each of the city's seven wards was made possible by a 1-cent sales tax increase voters approved in September 2011.

Another part of the tax was dedicated to public safety, hiring of additional police officers and the creation of Little Rock Tech Park to be built on Main Street in downtown.

Honeywell says the city has seventeen roundabouts but says many residents may still be unfamiliar with their use.

"It's a new concept for a lot of people," Honeywell says. "People don't always want to embrace something that's new and maybe a little different than what they're used to."

McConnell says he is not against roundabouts, but says he won't support one in front of his house. But now he believes tax money to help the neighborhood now will go somewhere else in ward 4.

"We will not see it in Pleasant Valley and whether thats a vendetta for us rising up to fight a roundabout that may be the price we pay," McConnell says.

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