"Would you like to have a choice in the matter,?" we asked.
"Yes, I would, you know. Cause I have been living here for 12 years. Been through a lot here," she said peering down the street toward Barton Coliseum.
Many of McClendon's neighbors have lived here for decades, putting down roots and investing big dollars over the years.
"She's always remodeling her house," McClendon said, pointing across the street to Ms. Moore's house." And then Ms. B has been remodeling, had her house remodeled twice over the years. They might not want to leave all that behind."
There are those who would be willing to cut out from the area, like one gentleman we spoke with who said his father would likely sell and get out of dodge "if the price was right."
But walking across the street to talk to his cousin, a young mother, we got a very different response.
"It'd be really hard on me to pick up and leave. I own this house outright. I have two kids," she said. "It just wouldn't be something I would want to happen."
LIttle Rock Mayor Mark Stodola presented options to the Arkansas Show and Livestock Association (ASLA) to keep the State Fair in Little Rock by expanding its current location. That would require a takeover of private property in some cases. That's where eminent domain comes in.
Taking a page from Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition of eminent domain is the right of government to take private property for public use.
"Should we be so ready to do that and take over land where they [Little Rock residents] live?" KARK asked Stodola.
"First of all, this is the Arkansas State Fair, they have eminent domain," Stodola said. "Not the city. Secondly, there are several real options on the table, including land to the west and a portion of land owned by the Little Rock Housing Authority that could be used. The real issue is working with the railroad."
However, during the ASLA meeting where Stodola presented the expansion options, including the one affecting residential neighborhoods, several ASLA board members inquired about the ability to have all four options on the table. Stodola told them he thought it was possible to have all four to increase acreage.
"So you did say that all options are on the table, even though you're saying there are two real, evident options right now, is that correct?" we asked Stodola.
"Of course those are on the table. I wouldn't have presented them otherwise," Stodola said. "It doesn't take a rocket scientist to determine that if they say they need space, you look around and see where the space is."
"Change is always hard for everybody and anybody. These are long-term options, and expansion would take several years. I don't think there should be some alarm bell being sounded at this point and time about the fact that they are going to take everybody's property."
Stodola further pointed out that many people who currently live in the adjacent neighborhood to the east, which he described as largely rental, with a number of vacant lots, would actually be able to move into a better neighborhood and a better living conditions than they are now.
"There are lots that the city has already taken control of because they were in such disrepair. And no one would fix them or take the time to clen them up," Stodola said.
"We would not want to be in the situation where we disrupted people and moved them out of their homes," said Ralph Shoptaw with ASLA.
ASLA, which oversees the fair, isn't quite sure it could actually move people out of their homes without a public entity, like the city, acting on its behalf.
"I don't think we have the right of eminent domain. We're a private non-profit organization," Shoptaw said. "I would think eminent domain would have to come from a public entity."
Reading the Arkansas Code restrictions on eminent domain, only government bodies -- and that includes cities -- have the power of eminent domain. And legal experts we spoke with at the General Assembly knew of no exceptions made for the ASLA.
Technology Park Authority and Neighborhoods at Odds
However, there is an exception in the code in the case of Research Park Authorities, like the Little Rock Technology Park Authority Board. The legislature passed a law in 2007 giving Research Park Authorities the power of eminent domain.
The Little Rock Technology Park Authority is looking at possible areas to create the technology park in three different possible areas. Rohn Muse lives in the area overseen by the Forest Hills Neighborhood Association, and his home would be one of those taken by eminent domain if the technology park authority selected that site.
"Our homes were not for sale before they got the idea to put it into our neighborhood and they are still not for sale," Muse said. "We certainly do not like the idea of eminent domain abuse."
"Is that what you feel like this is?" we asked him.
"It absolutely is, if they implement it. If a person's property is not for sale and they have a constitutional right to protect it, then someone threatens to take it by eminent domain that is abuse. In fact, it's bullying," Muse said.
While the city won't need to invoke eminent domain in regards to the research facility, it will be supporting the park with taxpayer funds through taxpayer funds approved by voters through a new sales tax passed in 2011. Stodola also appointed two authority members that will make the decision regarding the Technology Park location.
"I've asked them, as I would the State Livestock Association to be very sensitive about the issues of relocating," he said.
Residents who have been opposed to the Technology Park taking over residential areas have said they believe wealth, economy, and status have played a part in their neighborhoods being on the chopping block.
"I'm not going to soft shoe it. They're moving less income-earning people, and black people, to build something for wealthy white folks. Let's call it what it is," said Judge Wendell Griffen who has been fighting the Technology Park's location in residential neighborhoods.
So, we decided to ask Mayor Stodola if richer neighborhoods would be treated differently.
"If these were more affluent, higher-income neighborhoods, would they be so easily put up for relocation?" we asked Stodola.
"No, that's. This fairgrounds is here and so I think for you to try and speculate like that is really not an appropriate direction," he said.
But Muse believes that does come into play when discussing relocating residential neighborhoods.
"If this was Hillcrest or the Heights would those be in the same position? Of course not. They wouldn't even think about it," he said. "Believe it or not, we chose to live here. And our choice to live here came from a variety of reasons."
"There are a lot of misconceptions about these neighborhoods. Many of us are working professionals who make well-above the national median income. We have homes that we've invested in and we want to be here," Muse said.
Even in the area next to the fairgrounds, homes were old, but neat. And despite the presence of Little Rock Housing Authority rental properties, we met over a dozen people within two city blocks who had lived in the area as homeowners anywhere from ten to 60 years in the hours we spent knocking on doors.
Neither the Technology Park, nor the ASLA, will take action overnight. But residents say they do want a say in the decision and what happens to the property they've worked hard to keep. But that's something they say they haven't really received so far.
"I don't think anyone's interested in hearing what we have to say. We're just pawns on a chessboard. There are other motives driving this train," Muse said.
"What motives?" we asked him.
"Money," he said.