The Texarkana Gazette on August 23, 2020 published an article about the Texarkana Courthouse Square Connections Project that is expected to cost $950,000 Plus. The project is basically to pretty up the area around the Federal Courthouse and Post Office with minor “safety” improvements as it is so called. Safety is fluff to help convince folks to expend that kind of money. I go to the area a lot and I don’t see a safety issue as it is The project will involve closing off at least a part of 5th street, not sure what part. The plan involves making space for vendors like we have that many folks visiting the courthouse area to eat. There is already enough enough space for vendors elsewhere downtown. Maybe I am missing something. But this whole project makes no sense to me. Well the city will see.
On August 10, the Texarkana City Council considered and passed the following involving in-kind (not monetary) support by Texarkana Arkansas.
.Resolution 020-085 supporting the Courthouse Square Connections Project and authorizing the City Manager to execute an interlocal agreement with Texarkana, Arkansas, and all other documents necessary for the project.
The Texarkana Texas City Council will consider a resolution on August 24, 2020 concerning it as given below. Apparently, Texarkana Texas portion of the cost approaches $811, 015.65.
. Resolution No. 2020-093 authorizing the City Manager to enter into a contract with J.R. Pope Company, Inc. of Texarkana, Texas, for an amount not to exceed $811,015.65 for the Courthouse Square Connections Construction Project, with budgeted funds in the 2017 Bond Fund (Fund 423).
The project poses the following questions in my mind:
What do the Texarkana USA residents think about that kind of money being spent to make something prettier that already functions and look pretty enough as I see it. Did the people pass Bond Fund 423 specifically for that back in 2017 and even if so given what is going on now are there provisions to redirect the money? Seems the money could be better spent especially given the virus and increased emphasis on racial inequity. Is J.R. Pope and Company a minority contractor? If not, how many local minorities will get some of the contract?
I spoke over zoom at the Aug 24th city council meeting. It was on the consent agenda and it along with the other items was approved without anyone voting no. Of course all they allow you to do is give a speech as there is no discussion unless a council member desires to take it off the consent agenda and ask a question I suppose. It seems it was a done deal since it was on the consent agenda. I am not a resident of Texarkana Texas but I do have property there and have family that live there. Somehow I sense that the Black community in Texarkana either have resolved to accept inequity or just don’t have the courage to stand up. I did my part. I had my say and stand my ground morally. My speech follows:
Greetings, I am Rev. Chaurcey Boyd, that is with an R, C h a u r c e y, Last B O Y D. I am a citizen of Texarkana USA.As I have already stated in previous interactions with you, I certainly appreciate the Council and City Officials service to Texarkana Texas and beyond.
I am not here to harm but to rather help. I do not intend to disparage any of the people involved in the Courthouse Square Connections Project or any of the interrelated matters. I certainly would expect all involved to have already and will in the future demonstrate my view of a proper level of care and concern for sustaining and improving people lives over beautifying already beautiful things. To date, I find the Courthouse Square Project Strategic Doing defective in Strategic Priorities with respect to people over things. Simply stated, it should not be a city priority given its cost.
The Texarkana Gazette reports the Courthouse Square Project is expected to cost $950, 000 Plus. And we know what Plus usually means. Texarkana Texas portion approaches $811,000. Expenditure of such money for such a purpose seems to be inappropriate especially given the Pandemic, the Pandemic’s financial impact on Texarkana and its citizens as well as the racial protests arising out of an increased awareness of racial inequity in a variety of socio-economic, criminal justice, and other areas for a variety of reasons. When the Courthouse Square initiative began five years ago, of course things were different.
I note that seemingly located within the area addressed by the Courthouse Square Project is the Civil War Monument AKA the Confederate Monument, the Mothers Monument. Thus, the monument issue and the Courthouse Square issue are interrelated issues. Now the monument personally does not bother me as I see it as a symbol of defeat regarding States rights with respect to slavery. I understand why both sides of the issue believe and feel as they do. But if the monument is to be relocated then I think that would certainly be a better use of the $811K. Not only that I believe beautification and improving places like the Beverly Community would be even a better use of the $811K and even the 950K Plus.
I am confident that with adjusted strategic priorities City Officials and the community at large could identify a number of things that would be a better use of the money.
But if the project goes forward, I ask this question: Are their provisions in place to ensure local Black Contractors and other Black Businesses reap some of the financial benefit of the project? I believe such assurance would be in line with the city’s diversity interest.
If there is one thing this Pandemic and the racial protests ought to teach us, it ought to be that we need to slow down and reexamine our priorities. I urge the City to slow down and reexamine its participation in this project.
I look forward to continued interaction with the City to make things better for all citizens of Texarkana, USA.
God Bless You, Texarkana USA and the United States of America.
The Texarkana City Council basically meets every 2 weeks with adjustments made for holidays. They post it on their website and even post the agenda overview and details a few days prior. So any interested citizen should know when they meet and generally what they are going to talk about.
But one problem is council’s and boards sometimes do not give the citizens enough timely details to ascertain the issue. For example in the Aug 10 meeting they presented a resolution for an agreement for Texarkana Ark to provide in-kind services on the project. So that means the money will come from City of Texarkana Texas (811K) and probably donations to meet the 950K projection. Notice they did not mention the cost on Aug 10. The cost was mentioned the best I can tell on the night they passed it.
Reminds me of the bathroom bill a few years ago the Arkansas side passed without public notice in one sitting. A group of us worked a campaign to call for a vote to get the measure repealed and it was repealed. (Of course everyone must use the bathroom but that was not the issue; the issue was how it was done and formulated.)
Black folks probably going to have to do something similar to gain proper equity in this City on both sides. But who among us (White and Black) will not settle for their own comfort and success but will stand on the Lord’s side for indeed racial equity is present in the love thy neighbor as you love yourself biblical principle.
But I must say Texarkana Texas does show some interest in improving diversity and equity. Hopefully future efforts will be a use of funds clearly aimed at improving diversity and equity. But if not who will stand on fthe Lord’s side is the question at hand?
Black Lives Matter Texarkana Petition to remove the Confederate Monument in Downtown Texarkana