Little Rock Look Back: March 20 in City of Little Rock history

For much of Little Rock’s history, the City Council did not meet on March 20.  (Under City Council rules, meetings were often once a month, and later moved to twice a month – usually second and fourth Monday).  Since switching to the City Manager form of government, meetings moved to the first and third weeks of the month.  The first instance of the First Day of Spring being a City Board meeting was in 1961.

At that meeting, there were the usual zoning issues. There were also proposals to close several streets, in anticipation of industrial development.  That Little Rock was anticipating industrial development was indeed news.  After the 1957 crisis, the city had no new businesses locate to Little Rock for several years.  One of the longtime tenants in Little Rock, Westinghouse Corporation, was experiencing legal issues on the national level.  As a way to show that Little Rock was open for business, the City Board passed a resolution on March 20, 1961, to thank Westinghouse Corporation for their continued commitment to Little Rock.

The next City Board meeting on March 20 was in 1973.  In addition to the usual zoning issues, there were a couple of items of note for future projects which would impact Little Rock in the late 1970s and beyond.  The first was to enter into an agreement with the US Army Corps of Engineers regarding a park at Murray Lock and Dam.  The second dealt with the planning for Metrocentre Mall.  There was also a lengthy discussion about the proposed annexation of 55 square miles in southwest Little Rock.

Six years later, on March 20, 1979, topics addressed included upgrades to University Park and Greyhound bus service to Texarkana and Memphis.  $316,800 was appropriated to reconstruct Markham from Ellis Drive to I-430, a distance of 0.4 miles.  Rules and regulations for the Fire Department were also approved.  In addition, some citizens spoke about the Batty Glass collection, which was then at the Museum of Science and Natural History.   In 1984, if Big Brother was watching on March 20, most of the items were routine.  Southwestern Bell did have a request for a project on Hinson Road in anticipation of future growth in that area.

The location for a future west Little Rock park took up much time at the March 20, 1990, City Board meeting.  Several sites were under consideration. Each of the seven City Directors seemed to have his or her own favorite.  Ultimately no final decision would be made that evening.  Parks were a topic at the next March 20 meeting, in 2001.  Parks Director Bryan Day (who was celebrating a birthday that day) was recognized for being the Outstanding Parks professional in a five state region.  There was a lengthy discussion that evening about additional funding for the Pulaski County Regional Detention Facility, which ultimately passed.  At the end of the meeting, there were updates on the proposed Summit Mall.

On March 20, 2007, the City Board spent time discussing potential projects for a short-term financing bond issuance.  Items included HVAC repairs to the Dunbar Community Center and Central Fire Station, improving the elephant exhibit at the Zoo, new city vehicles and computer software upgrades.  Five years later, Milton Crenchaw was recognized with the Spirit of Little Rock Award for his role as an instructor to the Tuskegee Airmen and other accomplishments in the fields of aviation and Civil Rights.

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