The call by some city officials for better response times and service in the eastern border of North Little Rock is nothing new according to former Interim City Fire Chief Steve Smith.

He said if city officials wish to get more involved to find ways to improve response times he is cooperative with the idea.

"I’ve been with East side response time issue since last year," Smith said. "Last year, we started gathering data."

Fire department officials also met with other city officials about the issue.

At a recent city council meeting, Smith discussed the issue Aldermen Linda Robinson and Debi Ross.

City officials are moving forward to hiring an outside consultant to analyze the fire department to determine ways it can operate more efficiently and effectively, with a major objective being to improve response times to the East End.

"The idea of a consultant doesn’t bother me," Smith said. "We will work hand in hand with them."

The issue of East End residents believing they are getting fair representation has been an issue for a considerable length of time.

Aldermen Maurice Taylor and Robinson recently wanted the city to adopt streets in that region of the city that are considered non-municipal thoroughfares, thus making them the responsibility of the city to maintain them.

The council did not move to adopt the streets.

"They know it is not going to be an overnight solution," Taylor said. "But we can’t fill a pothole because they are private streets. First, accept the streets and do any routine maintenance. We also need a comprehensive plan on how to bring the streets to city standards."

Dr. Dwight Lambert, who lives in Dear Meadows area in the East End, told aldermen recently that there are some very expensive homes there which aren’t getting their fair share of city services.

"Those are $250,000 homes," said Lambert. If they were in Chenal, they would be $1 million homes."

Lambert added, "All you do is pick up trash. Then you tell us you annex us in but not the streets. You didn’t even accept the streets because they are substandard, then you annex us in. I am not angry, but I support what my councilmen are telling you. You spend $50,000 in a minute in the Argenta and Park hill areas. We have been out there 9-11 years and are paying $5,000 a year for trash pickup."

The vote to adopt the East End streets failed by a 4-3 margin.

"It blows my mind," Taylor said. "They are trapped there. Our responsibility is to take care of the taxpayers and we are not doing it. They are caught between a rock and a hard place."