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Pop Up On The Hill 2014
Pop Up on the Hill 2014 Halloween2008 Halloween on Park Hill 2008 All images © 2007 through 2016 by Michael Tierney


Urgent Public Service Annoucement

Think the median in the middle of the road makes it hard now to get in and out of Collector's Edition?
You won't believe what the city is about to do next.

It could cost people their lives.
Please, see the video below:


Channel 11 did a news story about the dangers being creating by North Little Rock,
running Friday night and Saturday morning.
You can watch it on their website here:

Monday, August 3rd, I discussed the matter with the Dave Elswick radio show on 96.5 FM.
You can listen to it here -- just mouse over to the 2:05 mark.

Your letters are working (see the bottom of the page)!
Wednesday, August 6th, NLR road crews came by around Noon to look at the problem with the bushes,
saying that they'd "gotten a lot of complaints."
They immediately saw what was shown in the video,
but said they "Will have to come back to work on them later in the day, when it's less dangerous."
They did, and I appreciate it. I thank the city, and the alderman who encouraged it.
The view when leaving now is still not great, but it is greatly improved.
But they couldn't have summed up better the improbability of pedestrian traffic on Park Hill.

If it's too dangerous for professional road crews to work, would you really take the kids there for walk?
Watch all the videos, mine and Channel 11 -- and you'll never see a single pedestrian.
Jump Start is a plan for phantom demand.

JFK Exit as of June 16, 2016

June 16, 2016 Update

There has been no maintenance done to the bushes since the crews visited last August.

To the left is a cell phone photo of the driver's view when you try to exit today.

A Hazard created by city planning!

September, 2016 Update

Glad to report that the city did finally remove the tree and trim the bushes.
Driver's views are no longer nearly as restricted.

But this serves as a perfect example of how dangerous the city's plans to plant trees all along the road curbs can be.

My Definition of a Public Safety Hazard

The video above doesn't just help state my case, it shows it.

To present the other side of the argument, here's the link to the actual plan.

See the right hand column for my early experiences with the Jump Star plan as it was working its way through the city planning commission.

Directly below is my address to the city council the night they passed this ordinance into law. Or you can just skip all the history and scroll to the summation at the bottom.

I made a four-foot poster of their plan, shown to the right, to illustrate my address to the North Little Rock City Council on May 15th, 2015.

Hello. My name is Michael Tierney. I'm the owner of both Collector's Edition Book Store and the property it sits on.
Park Hill Jump Start Map
When the Jump Start plan was first announced, I had a lot of problems with it, so I volunteered for the Rezoning Committee.

There, I had about as much time to discuss one of those problems as I'm given here tonight.

Whenever I show the difference between the Pedestrian Priority and Pedestrian Preferred parts of the plan on the city's hand-out, people always have trouble seeing the cross-hatching that marks the area, so -- since I'm on limited time -- I've enlarged the map and changed the cross-hatching that indicates Pedestrian Priority into a black line.

The black rectangle is my property, which is 8% of the affected area.

The difference between the Pedestrian Priority and Pedestrian Preferred designation is that areas within Pedestrian Preferred can still set their buildings back, like most locations currently are. Pedestrian Priority insists that only a design like a downtown building may be constructed along these few blocks.

I've done business in North Little Rock for 34 years, 25 in this spot. It's an already optimized location, regularly scoring perfect 10s on Secret Shopper Reports. The property is bought and paid for. I control my own destiny. Or ... so I thought.

In the event of a tornado or other major catastrophe, the Jump Start's Planned Priority designation for my property would not allow me to rebuild.

The plan demands that new buildings in this area must be within 5 to 15 feet of the sidewalk, and cover 75% of the lot's frontage -- which for me, being on 2 and 1/2 lots -- would be a multiplication of my building's current size.

Insurance won't pay for that, and even if they did, I wouldn't put my business in it. I've owned and operated multiple stores in Little Rock and NLR since the 80s. I've never chosen a downtown location because they don't have what I need -- lots of parking and easy access. Most of my customers are on and off the lot in less than 10 minutes.

Located next to intersecting interstate highways, Park Hill is a prime location for destination orientated businesses. But Pedestrian Priority is aggressively car unfriendly.

I'll put it in historical perspective:

A little over 3 decades ago, the Park Hill business community was devastated when the City built a median down the center of JFK, making it difficult for cars to cross from one side of the street to the other. As a result of the lost traffic, the McDonalds franchise that originally built my building relocated to Levy, as did others.

It's taken a time for Park Hill to fill back up to the point where it is today, during which time many attempts at placing community based businesses here have either failed or relocated. The population isn't there to support them, and those road medians never created any increase in foot traffic.

Now comes the Pedestrian Priority plan to increase pedestrians by moving buildings right up onto the sidewalks. The option to build up to four stories high is nice, but I think overestimates the demand for residential living above an interstate highway.

The slogan of "Build it and they will come" is based on a fantasy, and ... Kevin Costner is not in the room.

Referring back to the map one last time, the owners of the area marked in purple have already opted out of the Jump Start Plan.

I'd like to opt out of the Pedestrian Preferred.

Thank you for your time.
No one had any questions or comments in reply.

Later, one councilwoman did ask a representative from the city if my statements had been correct, and that I would not be allowed to rebuild in the event of a catastrophe. He dodged the question three times, so the fourth time she demanded a yes or no answer.

He answered that "No, he would not be allowed to rebuild. But he can always go back to the planning commission and the city council, and ask them to reconsider."

At this point a councilman smiled and declared, "Then the solution is already built into the system," and added, "Problem solved."

Not for me.

The definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result. I'd already asked both groups once already not to do this to my property. Beyond the odiously obvious dodge, there was an insult here, too.

In the event of disaster, any business that wants to survive needs to start the recovery process immediately, the very next day; not wait months in hopes of a different result from before. And, even if I were inclined to build a downtown building on the top of a hill, that would take months to draw up a plan and then once again ask for the city's approval.

After 34 years of unbroken business continuity dealing in a commodity with a short shelf life and months of orders always placed in advance, my only option for survival would be relocation.

The councilman had slapped me with an eviction notice in the event of any type of disaster, and he did it with a smile.

The council voted unamimously to pass the ordinance into law. I thanked the councilwoman for asking questions on my behalf.

I'd won one big battle (see the right hand column), and now lost one. I'm already considering options that don't include "thinking of a good price" to sell (again, see the right hand column).

But there's still one more battle that has to be fought.

I've continued to attend the implimentation planning meetings, in hopes of getting them to reconsider the hazardous street plan outlined in the video above. In the last meeting another person spoke up about how the median in the middle of the road was the real reason that businesses so often failed on Park Hill, and that this was where they needed to address their focus. When I agreed, the disagreement from the city representatives was loud and firm.

I was told that they already knew my opinions and didn't want to hear them.

There will be no discussion of changes to their plan -- a plan which only works when supported by traffic lights at every access point. They've relentlessly expressed their intention to close as many business entrances and exits as they can, which they call "conflict points." That is what the city is intentionally making them into.

I wonder if this might not be the creation of an excuse to close all of our customer access -- in the interest of public saftey (see the side column for a prior example of this type of action, to the lower right -- just above the photos).

Park Hill Gateway Rendering In fact, if you go back and read the city's plan and look at their concept image that I used in my video, they clearly illustrate my point.

If the fellow walking the dog was a motorist, he'd have trouble pulling out into traffic. This is about to become a problem not just for me, but for every single business on Park Hill!

The best interest of the public safety would be in not creating this hazard in the first place.

If the city won't listen to me, maybe I can show you.
If you agree that the city should not create this public safety hazard ...

Please write Mayor Joe Smith, you can contact him here.

If you feel real strongly about this, the contact information for the city council alderman can be found here.

And the ctiy employees in charge of the Jump Start plan can be reached here.

You are also welcome to

Email me directly at:

Let me know if you'd like your comments and name posted in the space below, but please keep it civil. I will edit out harsh language.

Michael Tierney

June 29th, 2015

Thank you to everyone for your civil and well-mannered discourse on this subject.

Your letters have had an early positive result, as reflected in the update box above.

I thought Cody Croy's letter (reprinted with his permission below) summed up the issues well. He did his own research of the Jump Start plan and also made a very good point about how he has options to shop elsewhere, nearer to where he lives, but makes the choice to travel to Park Hill in North Little Rock.

Thank You again!

Dear Mayor Smith,

My name is Cody Croy and I am a resident of Alexander, Arkansas. While I don't live in the area, I frequently shop in North Little Rock. I have just recently been informed of the Jump Start program and the future changes that would come from it in the Park Hill area. While there is no doubt improvements are important and necessary, those improvements should always do just that, improve.

After looking at the Jump Start plan, I can't help but feel all the ideas presented in it are wrong for the Park Hill area. Park Hill is not a "downtown" area. Most of the current businesses along JFK are more dependent on vehicle traffic than foot. Limiting vehicle access would only hurt existing business. Being pedestrian friendly is great, but I've rarely seen any foot traffic in my 3+ years of frequenting the area. Is this even a sustainable idea? This is where the confusion lies. Is the support for making these changes to deal with the traffic issues on JFK, or is there a real wish for an idyllic pedestrian community?

I can agree that JFK has serious safety issues. I am a regular customer at Collector's Edition located at 3217 JFK Blvd., which has been a community staple for 25+ years, and have had several issues with navigating the area. I've always had problems with the median blocking access to the store, which forces me to cut through the residential neighborhood just to turn around. And upon leaving, I have to contend with bushes that were planted by the city which block the view of oncoming traffic. The tops of trucks and buses are visible, but I have to ease out and pray that there are no cars coming. I saw in the Jump Start plan there is to be an implementation of planting trees along the road, that would make the trucks and buses just as difficult to see as a car. Also, the plan includes reducing lane width, which is the only thing that allows me space to ease out and still give the cars coming some wiggle room to avoid me in the nerve-racking experience of pulling onto JFK.

Another problem I foresee in the Jump Start plan is the effect it would have on the business community. Most of the businesses I notice on JFK are not really pedestrian-friendly stores. Even the majority of the Park Hill Business & Merchant Association consists of medical, legal, and realty operations. There are no real walk around and "hang out" businesses. I understand the hope is to bring more businesses to the area by making the changes in the Jump Start plan, but you are inversely hurting the existing businesses by 1.) limiting vehicle access to those affected businesses 2.) limiting the existing businesses on future design of building or parking structures and 3.) just the general risk of losing those existing businesses over these new mandatory construction regulations in a gambit to create this pedestrian pipe dream. I understand grant money is absolutely dependent on using the Jump Start plan, but would the changes made by said plan truly benefit the area or just give potential businesses more reason to question a move to Park Hill?

It should also be mentioned that I have other options that are closer and less of a traffic headache; yet I enjoy coming to the store in North Little Rock. I simply prefer to spend my time north of the River when I go to town. I appreciate you taking the time to read my concerns over the matter at Park Hill and strongly urge you to reconsider the implementation of the Jump Start plan.

Cody Croy

Bradford Pears Panorama JFK Blvd
Bradford Pears Panorama -- This picture, taken in Spring from the front door of Collector's Edition, is of the Park Hill Baptist Church parking lot directly across the divided highway of JFK Boulevard.

Collector's Edition

3217 John F. Kennedy Boulevard
North Little Rock, AR 72116
Store hours: Monday through Saturday 10 to 6

Collector's Edition



Tying to explain how round pegs work better in round holes:

Here's what happened before the City Council meeting to the left.

After I'd addressed my concerns at every North Little Rock City Planning Commission meeting where the subject was brought up, I was invited to volunteer for what I thought was going to be a review panel of the Jump Start Plan.

That's not what happened.

After a number of evening meetings that focussed entirely on rezoning the area and deciding who would and would not be allowed to do business on Park Hill, a determination was made to wrap the whole matter up in one day-long session.

Again, most of the time was spent dealing with the re-zoning, and then there was about a two-hour sprint through the plan.

One very good change did come out of this, which I address in the letter below, but my complaints about the public safety hazards that the curb treeline would present were scoffed at and dismissed out of hand. No vote was taken on the matter.

About my concerns over the draconic Pedeistrian Priority Plan, I had about two minutes to discuss it, during which I would constantly interupted, and then a vote was taken. Four people, none of whom owned property in the affected area, voted the measure in. One of the voters for the measure had previously texted me to get together with my neighbor and "Be thinking of a good price." Another was subsequently allowed to pull his properties from the plan completely.

So I wrote the following letters, that were included in the information packets to both the Planning Commission and the City Council:

Thank you for including me on the recent committee review. The Case Study done on my property at 3217 JFK did help address some major problems in the plan, when it was determined that changing the Use for a location, without exterior remodeling, would not trigger an expensive redesign of the property. Keep the exterior building the same and a different type of permitted business can now occupy the location without expensive property changes.

That's one major problem down.

But in the event of a tornado or future development, something even more major that I didn't discover until working on the committee is that there are multiple designs for the Park Hill businesses. The "Pedestrian Priority" designation is for only a handful of blocks, which includes my own. I would like to point out that of the 4 person majority who voted to include the separate PRIORITY classification, NONE were affected by it. I am the only property or business owner in the committee who fell within this classification, and remain opposed.

While the rest of Park Hill is slated for the less intrusive "Pedestrian Preferred" design, the difference between it and "Pedestrian Priority" is stark. I asked Jenna and Bernadette for a clarification, which they provided:

"Ped Priority is 5' min. setback ­ 15' max. setback, and 70% minimum building frontage, which means at least 70% of the building's façade line is required to be located within the BTZ as a proportion of the lot's width along the fronting public street."

When asked for clarification if the 70% referred to the size of the building or the size of the lot, the response was:

"It means that for ped priority streets, 70% of the lot width must be covered in building frontage, so if you have a 100-ft. lot, 70 ft of your street frontage has to have building on it, built within the build-to-zone."

That's actually a worse case scenario with my property being so hilly. The Hill's change in elevation is accentuated by the fact that my property is on 2 & 1/2 Lots. Using the half as deep as wide formula on my 165-foot wide property, the plan would require any new construction to have a 115.5-foot facing, and that means nothing smaller than a 7,000 square foot building could be built there. Very restrictive. This makes my property impossible for any development other than a 'big box' -- and virtually unsalable without re-platting (in which case I'd need my second driveway back, which the plan currently wants to close).

Attached is a photo to illustrate the problems in applying the PEDESTRIAN PRIORITY classification to my side the 3200 block of JFK (which IS NOT APPLIED DIRECTLY ACROSS THE STREET).
Collectors Edition
In the photo, you can see the top of Stromans' roof way down in the background. That's how much the 3200 block puts the HILL in Park Hill, which would be good reason why the other side of the street was NOT marked as Ped Priority.

With the entrance on the north (according to the Jump Start plan -- which is also the only part level enough to accommodate the handicap ramp), to meet this 70% requirement it would be necessary to push the building to the far south edge of my property -- directly in front of where Stromans sign now stands. An approximate 8-foot stilt wall foundation along the south side of the building would be required just to keep the floor level. Put a building on top of that 50-foot deep and 8-foot tall foundation and I think anyone, especially Stromans, would find this design ghastly in appearance. This towering wall would certainly would look unattractive from the street -- and that assumes any future development only wants to make a single story building. Multiply the effect for multiple stories and I think you'd get a lot of complaints about me constructing a Tierney Tower. They might think a four story building was actually five.

As I've often said, I don't think the plan designer ever actually looked at the 3200 block, except maybe on google satellite. At the public meeting where he was talking about an alleyway plan, his comment to me about how wide and gradual the "B" street corners were, which enabled drivers to turn the corner without slowing down, and how they needed to be narrowed and sharpened, was completely inaccurate. A clear indicator that he didn't know what he was talking about.

The public safety hazards from pushing buildings so close to an interstate road were illustrated by a traffic accident two doors down, when a dump truck crashed through the front of the old Bridle Cottage location. If that building were positioned according to this plan, no one might have survived. As I've often said during committee meetings, this is a plan designed for a city street, NOT an interstate highway. Unlike downtown buildings that have a row of parked vehicles as a barrier against vehicular mayhem, this plan affords nothing but shrubs and a sidewalk fast lane through the front window. Any future development will have to shore up the 5 to 15 feet setback like a D-Day beach with concrete barricades.

Pushing businesses closer to the highway also runs counter to the plan to create wide-open sidewalks where people would feel comfortable walking.

As I've said on record before, this plan is a design at the expense of functionality, which puts both stringent limits on future development. With these restrictions, any potential development on my property will likewise be restricted, severely impacting the property's value. I feel the 'nuts and bolts' of the plan still needs a thorough analytical review of cause and effect.
Please consider removing the Pedestrian Priority classification. If I had not served on the review committee, I would have had no idea that some sections of Park Hill have a different plan from the others. I doubt anyone else who is affected does.

This keeps me from endorsing the plan.

This is the second letter sent to both groups:

I've stated my opinion on problems with the current Jump Start vision.

Now I would like to share a different vision.

Instead of putting so much burden for the redesign at the expense of the property owners -- instead refocus on a plan that will still accomplish the stated goals of increasing pedestrian traffic and slowing vehicular traffic.

Give them something to look at by installing a series of lighted water fountains down the Park Hill highway median. The water and power are already in place.

Invest grant money not in concrete, but instead in a design of functional art. Light it up at night.

Park Hill will become a recreational destination and drivers will slow for the free show. This, more than setting stringent building parameters and setbacks, will create a community atmosphere.

As I've said before, the slogan should be:

"Park Hill, it's your destination."

My letters and comments at the hearing drew no comment.
The planning commission approved the ordinance unanimously and passed it on to the city council (see the lefthand column).

The NLR Planning Commission's definition of a Safety Hazard.

During one of the planning commission meetings, a coucilman declared how "I hate signs," which explains a suspect action that the commission took a few years back when they brought up the subject of exterior business signage as being a public safety hazard. Public safety hazards do not require prior notice of any kind to the community, and the topic was raised and a new ordinance immediately plassed that outlawed exterior signage along the Park Hill corridor. Existing signs were 'grand-fathered' in, but all future business signage can only be small, monument signs.

His words gave me a recollection of the Soup Nazi from the Seinfeld Show. Only instead of saying "No soup for you!" he was saying "No signs for you!"

And while "Hate" is a word that I personally dislike, I also dislike empty space. So I'm going to fill the rest of this column with photos from events like Free Comic Book Day and the now-defunct Halloween on the Hill.

Even though my business is not the type of community-based business that the city envisions sitting atop the hill, I'd say this is more visual evidence that they're wrong in their thinking. My customers are a community, too.

I would like to keep them safe.
Halloween on the Hill 2012 Halloween on the Hill 2012 Halloween on the Hill 2012 sunset Halloween on the Hill 2012 sunset Halloween on the Hill - 2010 Free Comic Book Day 2015 Free Comic Book Day 2015 Free Comic Book Day 2015
If I can get a 'thumbs up' from the canon operator of the Death Star,
why not one from the city of North Little Rock?
Free Comic Book Day 2015 Halloween on the Hill 2012 sunset