Seeking an investment opportunity? Have I found a deal for you.
North Arkansas College in Harrison is offering the handsome five-story, 44,000-square-foot tower and attached atrium just off the city's historic downtown square for perhaps as little as $1. At least that's what college President Randy Esters told me his Board of Trustees might consider under the right circumstances.
Naturally, one can't buy that much valuable real estate for $1 without some inevitable hitch. The tower was found to have a mold problem that requires extensive remediation, repairs and remodeling.
Depending on estimates (and an owner's resourcefulness) that could cost into the millions, yet not nearly as much as the college would have to shell out due to bureaucratic red tape. The interior of each floor would have to be stripped to the outer walls then remodeled to suit the new owner or owners.
"Unfortunately, we don't have unlimited resources and funds," said Esters, adding that his goal is to transfer ownership of the tower, which is attached to Harrison's Durand Center, while improving the local area "so we can make the best of this situation for North Arkansas, Harrison and for the college."
Potential owners will be asked their plans to contribute to the local economy and provide proof of financial resources capable of satisfactorily completing repairs to the tower. The sprawling Durand Center, a popular venue for numerous events, is connected to the tower at the ground floor, but is not included in the offer.
But great Scott, folks, what can you expect at 44,000 square feet for a buck or so? What does that come to? A fraction of a penny per square foot? Our state just spent about $2.6 million tax dollars for a new 3,150-square-foot welcome center on the northern outskirts of town.
Up in smoke
Speaking of potentially spending millions of dollars with nothing but anticipated clean air to show for it, the latest estimates to extinguish that perpetually smoking nightmare in a Bella Vista neighborhood range as high as a blistering $37 million.
Residents living in the Trafalgar Road area near what had been a dump for stumps and downed trees have lived with unhealthy air levels since last summer when the now-closed dump leased by the Bella Vista Property Owners Association began continually belching feathery plumes of smoke from beneath the ground.
No one seems certain just how far beneath the surface whatever mess is burning. Estimates range as deep as 50 feet.
The latest news account says it likely will cost between $1 million and $1.3 million just to prep the site before the real work of smothering the blaze can begin. The cleanup process could take up to six weeks. So far, the upfront costs are coming from state coffers (i.e., our taxes).
I see readers have suggested extinguishing this threat to health with everything from abundant water to nitrogen pumped beneath the ground. Best leave that problem to the expensive experts.
But it seems common sense to me and others that the Bella Vista Property Owners Association, which leased the property to use as a brush and tree stump dump for 13 years, and the private companies who illegally dumped there, should morally and legally own this expense.
Property Owners Association' Chief Operation officer Tom Judson was quoted in a news account saying his association leased the property from December 2003 until the end of 2016 when the site was covered with soil. Nobody monitored it during the final few years it was open. Staff would remove trash when possible, Judson said. The property is now owned by Brown's Tree Care.
The way I see this smoldering calamity, taxpayers certainly weren't legally responsible for setting the blaze on private property, or continually dumping over 13 years whatever choking concoction lies beneath, were they?
What of our kids?
I just read 225,000 American children have a military parent who is currently deployed.
I read further that, on any given day, 438,000 U.S. children are in the nation's foster care system. On average, they remain wards of the state for nearly two years. Six percent have lived in the system for five or more years.
Finally, I read that 2.7 million American kids have an absent, imprisoned parent, amounting to one in every 28 children. Plus, the number of parents held in state and federal prisons increased 79 percent between 1991 and mid-2007. Fifty-two percent of the mothers and 54 percent of the fathers in state prison said they were their children's primary providers before incarceration.
Sadly enough, that totals just over 3.3 million kids.
So forgive me if I can't hyperventilate over 2,000 or so children temporarily separated from their parent or parents who chose to try to enter this country illegally (and bring their children into such uncertainty) regardless of how badly many in the mainstream media might want me to.
Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist. Email him at email@example.com.
Editorial on 01/27/2019
Print Headline: MIKE MASTERSON: What a deal