Promises Made, Promise Kept
Go Kart Track Gets Go-Ahead
Pine Bluff residents took a giant step forward to having a brand spanking new Go-Kart track with all the bells and whistles Tuesday night at the regular meeting of the Pine Bluff Urban Renewal Agency. Chandra Griffin, executive director of the agency was authorized to sign a contract to proceed with Amusement Products of Chattanooga, TN, the provider selected to build the facility.
The project was initiated by Go Forward Pine Bluff in 2017 after public input showed a desire for more family entertainment opportunities in the city. “Then at a Pop Up in the Bluff, attendants at our booth reported a strong interest in a Go-Kart Track. After hearing that information, we started our search for a track location and potential providers,” said Ryan Watley, Chief Executive Officer of Go Forward Pine Bluff.
See The Big Picture
As a longtime resident of Pine Bluff, this community is dear to me. Like many of the people reading this column, I have seen our city go through highs and lows. I’ve seen great industry locate here and companies leave for more fertile grounds. As a banker I’ve seen small businesses fail to make it — not always because their product was bad, but because the market wasn’t strong enough here.
For years we hoped that things would turn around, that the next idea would be better than previous ones, and that the free market would help right the ship. However, about 10 years ago it became clear we needed something big, something that would show we are all-in for our hometown. That decision was the beginning of the Go Forward initiative, a movement that brought together people from all corners of our community with a common goal: a resurgence of Pine Bluff.
Go Forward Pine Bluff pushes for tax campaign
Go Forward Pine Bluff has drafted a proposal to renew a five-eighth-cent tax that funds its projects and add a three-eighth-cent tax earmarked for public safety.
Go Forward CEO Ryan Watley met with council members and Mayor Shirley Washington on Thursday for the first of two meetings designed to gauge their thoughts on a campaign to ask voters for the additional sales tax to supplement the current tax approved in 2017.
Speaking with the city leaders over pizza and drinks inside the Du Bocage House on Fouth Avenue, Watley presented them with a 20-page draft of projects completed and funded by the original Go Forward tax along with action steps under each pillar of the private-public partnership.
How Can You Help?
Pine Bluff Urban Renewal Agency looks at tasks in year ahead
The Pine Bluff Urban Renewal Agency announced its 2023 agency operating plan earlier this month. Submitted by executive director Chandra Griffin, she stated several commitments were delivered in 2022 and noted the first of the year was stalled because of approval delays of the 2022 budget.
“City council approved budgets in late January of 2022 and PBURA hit the ground running,” said Griffin.
Accomplishments for 2022 included: Proposed downtown housing at Walnut Street to Pine Street, Third Avenue to Fourth Avenue completion of survey, appraisal, Phase I and Phase II environmental studies, geotech and architect work by way of requests for quotes. This project is ready to move forward with a potential developer.
Plan of action in place for downtown stabilization between Third Avenue and Fourth Avenue of Main Street. Level5 Architecture presented findings and estimated cost for stabilizing buildings. Prioritizing the buildings that need immediate attention has been completed and Level5 has applied for Historic Preservation Grants.