A Visit to Little Rock: Hotel, Dining, Concert and Panhandlers

'It's obvious to me...that this is a problem'

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Foot traffic in downtown Little Rock creates a path for economic dollars.

But, for one out-of-state visitor on his first leisurely trip to our capital city, these sidewalks didn't deliver.

"Downtown is a nice area, but it can be a lot better," Allen Brooks says while speaking via video chat.

Brooks, along with family and friends, came to town from Missouri on Jan. 21.

"Didn't hesitate at all about getting a room down there," Brooks says.

They stayed in a hotel, dined in restaurants and ultimately made their way here to the Robinson theater for a concert.

However, during their commute from Sticky's to Big Whiskey's to the concert, Brooks says he was approached by three different panhandlers at three different spots along the way.

One of them was verbally abusive.

"It was just a negative experience," Brooks says.

"It's obvious to me that, especially in the downtown area, that this is a problem."

The entire trip prompted Brooks to e-mail the mayor, detailing his encounters and to simply make the mayor aware.

We asked Mayor Mark Stodola about it.

He sent us a statement that reads:

"Little Rock is nationally recognized for our downtown revitalization success story that has seen hundreds of millions of dollars invested. Every day numerous individuals are at work to keep the momentum going including an LRPD unit housed in our River Market substation, an advisory group that brings together River Market stakeholders weekly, and the Downtown Little Rock Partnership with their Ambassador program and revitalization task force. We work to address the challenges and build on the successes. I regret that one visitor had a negative experience and let them know, but we will continue working together creating an inviting city for all."

Brooks adds:

"If you're asking people to come to your city and to be tourists and to enjoy your activities then you ought to take care of them while they're there."


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