Supporters of the Arkansas River Plan kick off their campaign on Wednesday. The goal is to convince the public to approve a 4/10ths of a cent sales tax that would fund $282 million in river improvements. The News On 6's Steve Berg reports people should get ready to see a lot more of the river, or at least the mention of the river on television ads, on yard signs and on wrist bands, among other places.
'Tis the season for campaigns, and even though this candidate isn't a person, it might be the most scrutinized.
"This is an opportunity to fund a plan that has been very much influenced by what the public wants," said Our River Yes campaign director Jean Letcher.
Our River Yes campaign director Jean Letcher says the river plan follows many of the suggestions from some 60 public meetings that were held over the past four years. But taxes could be a tough sell. Letcher believes the more people know about the plan, the more likely they will be to support it.
"The internet is a huge tool for us because you can see the renderings, you can find out what the vote is going to fund and what the private gift is going to fund," Letcher said.
In addition to the website, they will have yard signs, promotional items, and TV ads, which include testimonials from local people.
"You're going to see a lot of children, a lot people having a good time and talking about what the river means to them," said Letcher.
Letcher says she's heard concern about a loss of green space, but she says commercial development will be limited.
"It won't be strip shopping centers; it'll be the type of development we want to see along the river," said Letcher. "And we'll have that control."
She says enhanced gathering areas will actually improve on the natural setting with numerous water features, appealing to more than cyclists and runners.
"You're going to have all sorts of opportunities to enjoy the river at whatever level is good for you," Letcher said.
In addition to the $282 million in public funding, private donors will give $117 million to the project.