Downtown landmark to be moved, but where?
By JOEL PHELPS | The Arkadelphian
Love it or hate it, an Arkadelphia landmark is here to stay.
“The rock” in downtown has been plowed into by a reckless driver. It has been the brunt of many jokes. At one point the rock even had its own Facebook page created in its mockery. Through rain, blizzards, winds, car crashes and all the unprovoked criticism, the rock abides.
The rock was put there roughly a decade ago when a group of community leaders had the igneous idea to spruce up downtown and let visitors to Arkadelphia know they are, indeed, downtown. Since the Arkansas Highway Department wouldn’t allow the city to use actual signage, locals figured out a way to achieve their goal while complying with the state’s requirements. They found the rock they wanted, and it happened to be on shale. A $5,000 grant was secured, and the rock made its way into Arkadelphia history at no cost to her citizens.
Although many buildings will be razed to make way for what will become the Arkadelphia Bypass, the rock will keep its sedimental value to the citizens of Arkadelphia. The question that is weighing heavily on city officials now is where to move it.
City Manager Gary Brinkley wanted public input, and reached out to The Arkadelphian for assistance. We posed the question “In light of the Arkadelphia Bypass/10th Street expansion, what should be done with the Downtown Arkadelphia marker located in front of KFC?” The question was a popular one among readers, as the post received well over 100 comments in just a matter of hours.
One reader recommended the city “bust it up and get rid of it” while another suggested someone craft a sort of catapult mechanism that could fling it across DeGray Lake to “see how many skips we can get.”
“Some of those answers were quite unique,” Brinkley admitted.
One reader proposed it be sank in the Ouachita River. One even suggested that the city should sink it to the depths of the 60-foot Nowlin Pond, while another wanted to see it hocked at a pawn shop. “Those comments, too, were appreciated,” Brinkley said.
Most comments stayed the course of realism, with several commenting they would like to see the landmark relocated elsewhere in town — if for nothing else than the crater good of the town’s aesthetics.
Some said the rock should be moved where visitors coming into town will see it, either by the Ouachita River bridge or Caddo River bridge. Some said they’d like to see it moved near the Interstate 30 exit onto a city-owned property maintained with landscaping and flowers. Because that section will soon be the location of a new traffic light, and because the lettering on the rock reads “Downtown” Brinkley appears to side with the many other readers who would like to see it stay in downtown.
“It will most likely be somewhere in downtown,” Brinkley said. “We will focus our efforts on doing that for sure.” It could remain near its present location, ore it could land at the gazebo park adjacent to KelZek Fine Jewelry. “Those are two locations we’re looking seriously at,” Brinkley said. “Once the final design for 10th Street is evaluated and finalized, that will give us a good bearing on where to locate it.”
When the landmark will be moved now remains the rock-hard question. “That’s all contingent on the state,” Brinkley said, adding he is ready to rock and roll on the highway project. “When ArDOT tells us they’re ready to move forward, we’ll work off of their schedule.”
Perhaps the rock’s repute will have a clean slate once its new home is found.
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Categories: City & County