We think it may have been someone from the Spider-Man comics who said “The right choice can have the wrong result.” It wasn’t? Oh, well. It sounded like something from a superhero.
There were no superheroes at the Conway City Council meeting Tuesday night, just a mayor and seven aldermen and women trying to make a tough decision about something that many people have deemed a “slam dunk” of a proposal. The Clubhouse would be an indoor playground for children and parents to interact. There would be no loud music or video games, according to the potential owners, only a unique facility that caters to all children, but most of all to those who are disabled.
Those wanting to place The Clubhouse in the Scherman Heights Planned Unit Development area are the same owners of the business next door, Pediatrics Plus, which has blossomed in Conway so much so that it moved to the Scherman Heights PUD. It also brought with it an outdoor playground that is allowed, but the presence of which is becoming a nuisance for neighbors in the Scherman Heights subdivision, some of which are as close as 17 feet away from the building.
From the reaction at the meeting, no one ever said the Clubhouse was a bad idea. There were a few potshots by some in opposition with fear of bouncy houses in the parking lot or pool tables for the adults, but on the whole, everyone admitted the idea had merit. They were in favor of it, just not in their backyard.
The owners did themselves no favors by not being as specific as possible when they laid down their proposal to the neighbors of the Scherman Heights and Windcrest subdivisions. They waffled on closing times. They never pinned down the number of employees. They did leave a lot to chance, and maybe that can bring fear into a discussion. If we don’t know what time they want to close, who’s to say they won’t find another option for The Clubhouse for later hours? Maybe something for teenagers? It seems unlikely, but without some real guidelines set before going before the Planning Commission or the City Council, people could believe the worst.
The problem was indeed the location. Actually, to some of us, that wasn’t even a problem. An indoor playground with no sound seeping out and many of the children gone by 9 p.m. when some other businesses in the area are still open doesn’t seem like a problem at all. From our eyes, those in the subdivisions didn’t have a leg to stand on. Property values going down? Because of this? There are already pizza joints and sandwich shops. This is not a liquor store. It’s a playground.
But they did have a leg. The original PUD, which was the first in Conway, was agonized over by the council at the time, some of whom are still serving, and they realized that the regulations in place weren’t just thrown there by chance. They really struggled with the proper zoning for everything in the PUD. Although the city has changed, it may not have changed enough to just amend all of the previous decisions.
So the council did what we feel it had to do. It denied the request. It was the right decision. So why do we feel so wrong about it?