The state has closed a portion of the parking lot behind the Department of Arkansas Heritage building at 1100 North Street because the land that slopes down to the Arkansas River is unstable.
Stacy Hurst, who heads the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism, sent this note yesterday:
As you may know, on May 19th Theo Witsell discovered a slow-moving landslide on DAH HQ property north of the parking lot. The “slump” is east of the big cottonwood tree on the top of the steep slope that falls to the river. Experts have swiftly been engaged including the Arkansas Geological Survey, our building architect, and a geotechnical engineering firm. We will contract immediately with the geotechnical engineering firm to fully assess the situation and recommend a plan for mitigation.
A geotechnical investigation was done in 2014 before the building and parking lot were built, and measures were taken in the planning and design to ensure safe construction. For example, the building itself is on drilled piers that go down to bedrock. That said, the slide does present a danger to the lawn area and, potentially, the parking lot. As a precautionary measure and to remove some weight, we will block off the most northern row of parking spaces. Greg Roberts will mark those spaces as “no parking” tonight.
We anticipate you will see professionals and equipment on site this week as they conduct tests.
This land happens to figure in a past news story. It was the site of an 1890s trolley barn. Unearthing of remnants of that and other structures while the building and parking lot were under construction prompted an issue in the agency that led to Hurst’s firing of a staff archaeologist, Bob Scoggin.