FCRA chief rejects media attendance at dissolution meetings

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 1,070 views 

An agreement by local governments allowing the media to attend a June 10 meeting about the dissolution of the Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority (FCRA) has been nixed by FCRA Executive Director Daniel Mann.

The FCRA was formed in 1997 as a public trust to oversee redevelopment of 6,000 acres of land released by the U.S. Army from Fort Chaffee as part of a Base Realignment and Closure downsizing. The trust has four beneficiaries – the cities of Barling, Fort Smith and Greenwood and Sebastian County. All four have passed resolutions calling for the trust’s dissolution.

Only the FCRA Board can vote to approve the ending of its operations.

Beneficiary reps met privately without the FCRA on April 23, and after requests from Talk Business & Politics, the minutes from the meeting were provided. The minutes included a list of 15 conditions they would like to move toward FCRA dissolution. The conditions included that the FCRA will dissolve on Dec. 31, 2025, no new projects will begin as of a date to be determined, all projects must have the approval of all four beneficiaries, the FCRA shall not borrow any funds, and the FCRA will stop all repurchases of property.

The FCRA Board on May 16 rejected in whole the conditions requested by the FCRA.

On May 8, Talk Business & Politics President Michael Tilley submitted a request to Fort Smith City Administrator Carl Geffken asking that reporters be allowed to attend the beneficiary meetings.

“We certainly understand that such meetings are not a quorum of any public body, and we do not have rights to attend under Arkansas’ Freedom of Information Act,” Tilley said in the note to Geffken. “However, the FCRA is a ‘public trust,’ and any actions to dissolve the trust will have an impact on local governments, and area residents should have information about potential impacts – good, bad, or otherwise – on their local government(s). Ideally, process transparency would not only be welcome but considered good governance.”

After speaking with the other beneficiaries, Geffken confirmed on May 9 that Talk Business & Politics would be able to attend the meetings.

But on Friday (May 24), Geffken notified Talk Business & Politics that Mann did not want media at the meetings.

“Daniel emailed the following to my request for TB&P to attend the meeting, ‘I believe we will be able to have open and honest discussion (sic) that will lead to a more productive outcome with the press not in these meetings,’” noted Geffken’s email.

Mann has said that all parties agree that the FCRA should be dissolved and believed all parties would be “professional” in their discussions.

“We all get along. I believe we are all professional, and I believe that at the end of the day, we all want the same thing,” Mann said in this April 4 report.

Talk Business & Politics has attempted to contact Mann and will update this story when/if he responds.