Opposed to rehab facility
I am a resident of Whittington Valley. My husband and I have made Hot Springs our retirement landing place. Our bucket list includes restoring our historical home in the Valley.
Over the past five years, I have seen many positive improvements in my neighborhood. Homeowners have been sprucing up their interiors and exteriors. And businesses are likewise improving their properties. A few such businesses include Dryden Pottery (new paint), Tiny Town (exterior remodel), the Alligator Farm (new paint and a new mural), Parkside Cycle (exterior refurbishment), DJ's Upholstery (new business with site cleanup) and Weyerhaeuser (new roof, exterior refresh).
Our homeowners and business owners have improved our area tenfold. We now have families, children and seniors all enjoying Whittington Park as well as two other "hidden gems" in the Valley, Linden Park and Baseball Trail Park. We like to think of the Whittington Valley as a quiet, peaceful place next to downtown.
The proposed 48-bed drug rehab facility at 276 Linden St. will not have a positive impact on our neighborhood, our parks or the downtown area.
I really cannot imagine what the Planning Commission was thinking when they approved the project. Did any of them drive down here and really look at our neighborhood? If they had driven over to our neighborhood, they would have seen the Arkansas Math and Science School, the new Head Start School, numerous churches, the Boy Scouts of America in Linden Park and Whittington Park. All of these places have children in attendance.
The proposed facility at 276 Linden St. is located very close to all these locations. This facility does not fit into a residential neighborhood with schools and parks literally touching the property lines. Would you want this in your neighborhood?
Our town is now filled with happy tourists and families enjoying all the amenities our national and city parks and trails have to offer. Whittington Park is filled with bikers, hikers, Lakeside high school cross country training teams, moms with babies in strollers, horseback riding and photographers galore.
I fear that the proposed 48-bed facility will undo all that has been done to turn around my neighborhood.
Please, I urge you do not let this facility open with an increase in occupancy level from eight to 48 clients. And can you please make an ordinance and or law so that this doesn't happen again to our peaceful, beautiful neighborhood.
Problem is not STRs
Once again, I see our board of directors is in search of a solution needing a problem, in this case, short-term rentals, or VRBOs, as they're termed. And as usual, their solution to a problem that doesn't exist is for Hot Springs taxpayers to give them more control and money. Perhaps STRs wouldn't be needed if this same group could figure out what to do with the vacant site of the Majestic Hotel.
We do have a problem that needs addressing, however, and it's not STRs. It's LTTRs. That's my own acronym for Long Term Trashy Rentals. We have a small but all-encompassing number of slumlords here in Hot Springs who consistently operate a revolving door of renters who don't maintain their properties, move in and out every 30 days, and leave entire households of furniture piled up on the sidewalks and curbs.
Right now, in Meadowbrook, West St. Louis, and Cooper Streets, just to name three I travel in on my job, there are a half-dozen such residences that are a blight on what used to be decent middle-class family neighborhoods.
It's time to hold the owners of these properties accountable through fines and paying of hauling off debris to the landfill. They should have to register and put down a deposit with the city, as well as register their tenants (which would be of great help to law enforcement). If criminal activity such as drug dealing or violence takes place, they should be held accountable. This would make many think long and hard about who they are renting to.
In summary, we have three STRs in my neighborhood, and never had an issue. When a person owns a home and is planning to return to it, they are a little more circumspect in whom they rent it to. The larger problem is the LTTR's and the type of person who typically lives there. Maybe the board can commission another half-million-dollar study and look into this.