For the second time in as many months, the Pine Bluff Urban Renewal Agency has announced a new executive director with an abrupt follow-up saying that the person has decided not to take the position after all.
At a meeting held Wednesday afternoon, the agency’s board went into executive session for nearly an hour then announced that they had accepted Leonard Williams Jr.’s resignation.
The agency announced earlier this month that Williams had been named executive director.
Williams even stopped by the Commercial office last week and said he was excited about the job and detailed plans he had for the position. The Commercial was planning an article introducing the community to Williams but learned at Wednesday’s meeting that he had backed out of the job.
Attempts to reach Williams were unsuccessful.
A similar scenario occurred in April, when the Urban Renewal Agency board announced that Brad Williams was to take over the job.
Then, a few days later, Board Chairman Jimmy Dill said that he had heard from Brad Williams “by a text message and a couple of phone calls last week but never saw him. This is a setback and a disappointment. We were excited and Williams seemed excited but obviously something came up and he changed his mind.”
Dill and the other board members were tight-lipped Wednesday and didn’t discuss Leonard Williams’ departure.
Almost a year ago, the Pine Bluff City Council approved a resolution re-establishing the Urban Renewal Agency, an offshoot of Go Forward Pine Bluff, which conducted a study of blighted areas and determined three areas where blight existed.
Those areas were (1) an area bounded by U.S. Highway 65 to 34th Avenue on the north and south and Ohio Street to Hazel Street on the east and west. (2) Watson Blvd. to Civitan Drive as the north boundary to U.S. Highway 65 as the south boundary, the Arkansas River and University Drive to the east and west; and (3) the area bounded by East 16th Avenue as the north boundary and the south border East 17th Avenue to Frontage Road. Ohio Street and Interstate 530 were identified as the west and east boundary, respectively.
The 2018 city budget for the five-eighths cent Go Forward Pine Bluff sales tax allocates $1 million for blight removal and repurposing of buildings this year.
Ryan Watley, CEO of Go Forward Pine Bluff, deferred questions about the executive director position to Dill; however, Watley did say that “I heard that he (Leonard Williams Jr.) received an offer paying him more money.”
The executive director position pays $60,000, according to the City of Pine Bluff’s Human Resources Department.
A message left for Dill went unreturned on Thursday.