Inroad

Guest Written by Dr. Robin Bowen

A glimpse of the future was available at the corner of West L Street and North El Paso Avenue on the evening of Thursday, Sept. 1.

It was there, on the parking lot at the former Taco Villa location, that the Arkansas Tech University community and the Russellville community intersected with common goals: good food, good fellowship and good football.

The occasion was the opening game of the 2016 football season. The Wonder Boys won 46-0 for their first shutout since 2002, but the victories were not limited to the gridiron.

Another win for Arkansas Tech University — and the communities that it serves — started about three hours prior to kickoff when two food trucks rolled onto the parking lot at 1122 N. El Paso Ave.

As the pre-game Party at the Plaza unfolded, a come-and-go crowd of consistently more than 100 individuals gathered to enjoy the food served by Wok’N’Roll and Roxy’s Twisted Sandwiches. They were entertained by the Arkansas Tech University marching band and spirit squads. They lent support to registered student organization Because We Can, which sponsored the event as means of raising funds for its Campus Kitchen at Arkansas Tech food recovery program.

If that and similar events on Tech football game days this fall were the sum of the initiative, it would be a successful and worthwhile venture. The truth is that the food trucks, the live music, the creation of a space for meaningful interaction with our neighbors…it was and is a small taste of what will be a transformative project.

As you might have heard, Arkansas Tech University has engaged Miller Boskus Lack Architects, P.A. to assist the university in planning for the development of the North El Paso Avenue corridor between Russellville Downtown and campus. Representatives from the firm have been on the ground in recent months gathering information about Russellville. They’ve gauged our culture. They’ve learned about our business climate. They’ve taken the time to know and understand the collective personality of our community.

As the process continues, I ask you to “Experience El Paso.” You can do this in October by attending Arkansas Tech University home football games on Oct. 15 (4 p.m. Party at the Plaza; 6 p.m. kickoff) and Oct. 29 (11 a.m. Party at the Plaza; 2 p.m. kickoff).

On the Saturday in between (Oct. 22), join our friends at Uncommon Communities for a pop-up event on North El Paso Avenue. They have a full day of activities planned as a means of bringing people to the area and further imagining what could be possible.

Your participation in these events and the feedback you provide will be critical in planning the next steps for the development of the corridor. This is just the beginning, but as I experience these glimpses of the future, I grow more and more excited about what is forthcoming on North El Paso Avenue, at the university and for Russellville.

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Category: On a Personal Note

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