Branch basin has a storied history with the Trail of Tears and the
Butterfield Stage Coach Road running through and across it.
traveling the Trail of Tears camped along the headwaters of Town
Branch, finding pure and plentiful water as well as diverse wildlife,
fruit, vegetables and nuts for food.
years later immediately before the Civil War, the Butterfield Stage
Coach line ran south of Fayetteville through the area on its way
to Hogeye and eventually Fort Smith before turning west to San Francisco.
a part of the regional plan for heritage trails, this area deserves
archaeological studies as well as hydrological and wetland studies
before further development is approved.
University of Arkansas must be called upon to provide the benefit
of all its scientific and historical resources as well as funding
sources to see that the appropriate studies are done before any
vegetation is removed or earth moved from the Town Branch Basin.
history of the area must be recorded and the historic sites mapped
for preservation before any changes are authorized. The wetland
must be delineated and plans for its protection must be made before
anything more is built or any existing structures are removed.
special concern is the current population of the area. There is
a well-established neighborhood of single-family houses dating in
several instances back to the Civil War. There are houses built
on former farmland and dairy land that date back into the first
half of the 20th century. Many families represented there have owned
the property for far more than half a century.
residents of the small mobile-home parks in the basin appear to
be the most vulnerable people in the neighborhood. They represent
the labor force for Pinnacle Foods, a successor to Campbell Soup
on South 15th Street near its intersection with Razorback Road as
well as many other industries and commercial establishments and
the university and local government.
mobile-home parks are often thought of as the temporary homes of
transient residents, numerous families have lived in the mobile-home
parks between Sixth Street and 15th Street longer than the majority
of residents of Northwest Arkansas. Because many of them depend
on work in south Fayetteville industries and commercial businesses,
their average wage is not high. Should development displace them
as more expensive dwellings replace the mobile-home parks, they
will find the search for replacement housing challenging.
will be able to move into the newly built apartments or condominiums
slated for the area by ambitious and well-meaning developers. Will
they find other low-cost housing as close as they now live to their
work stations? Will some become homeless and dependent on already
overburdened facilities such as the Seven Hills Shelter for the
Homeless on Sixth Street? How many can stay at the Salvation Army
shelter on 15th long enough to find new housing?
the mobile-home parks in the area do not offer especially desirable
accomodations; however, the mobile homes in the parks are surrounded
by mature trees that offer shade and freedom from large bills for
cooling in summer and a degree of shelter from the wind in winter.
The shade of the mature trees makes it possible for youngsters to
play outdoors and Town Branch offers the experience of exploring
and wading and fishing in an Ozark stream, albeit a polluted and
littered one. But who pollutes and litters Town Branch?
it the residents of the mobile-home parks in the Town Branch basin
or is it the students upstream on the UA campus or people driving
along Sixth Street or businesses there or is it a combination? The
latter seems to be the correct answer.
17 is the planned date of a stream cleanup for the Sixth Street
to 15th Street stretch of Town Branch. A strong effort then will
go a long way toward improving the situation. However, the effort
can't be limited to that day.
the university must make a committment to improve the quality of
water in Town Branch. Dumpsters on campus must be inspected daily
to insure that no hazardous material such as paint or paint thinner
or waste cooking oil or construction debris with undetermined content
is allowed to pollute the surface water.
potentially hazardous material discarded on campus must begin to
be accounted for and disposed of through legal means. University
officials face a difficult task doing that because construction
of new facilities means non-university employees often add to the
waste containers without concern for local rules or the local water
construction projects must begin to be planned with an eye to following
all federal, state and local regulations. The university must no
longer disregard the stormwater-runoff rules or allow pollutants
or silt to wash downhill to Town Branch.
will take more than a few volunteers from the Town Branch Neighborhood
Association or a few well-meaning developers to improve the current
situation and provide for the future of the southside of our city
and the quality of water in Beaver Lake. It will take a massive
cooperative effort calling upon all aspects of society, and particularly
city planners and university scientists, to make it happen.
effort is worthwhile. Quietly watch a youngster at play and imagine
what you want that child to experience and to become. Saving Town
Branch is all about providing opportunity to experience the best
of life in coming generations.
the pristine forest on parts of Mount Sequoyah and Fayetteville's
other hills and the Wilson Spring wetland area, Town Branch represents
a potential showcase for wise city planning.
pause and review our motivation and our plans and decide what each
of us can do to see that Town Branch basin with its system of ponds
and springs and lowland forest and prairie wetland remains in a
relatively natural state and is developed only to the extent and
in the ways that can be done without reducing its quality and with
the intention and possibility of improving its quality.
isn't about doing more or spending more. In many ways, it is about
doing less and spending less but being certain that no long-term
unexamined decisions are made.
must educate everyone to be stewards of our hometown. The wetland
and pristine woodland areas must be delineated now. No one should
be in the position of purchasing land for development without fair
warning that the property is unsuitable for development. Full disclosure
should be mandated by law and enforced with good intentions.
process cannot be successful unless everyone is brought into it.