by Max Brantley
Mayor Mark Stodola has scheduled a 2 p.m. news conference to discuss a proposal for disposition of Ray Winder Field, the vacant former ballpark.
With some tweaks, the plan will be the one we uncovered earlier. UAMS will purchase the city's portion of the baseball park property. The Zoo will get roughly equivalent acreage to expand immediately east of the Zoo. This is now a parking lot controlled by the War Memorial Stadium Commission. It will continue to use the lot until the zoo expands. The Commission would expect to eventually get some further removed space to compensate for the loss of parking, perhaps from the state's portion of Ray Winder, but also perhaps from land the city hopes to acquire on the south side of I-630. A price for the sale to UAMS is not mentioned in the deal.
The Commission will get some concessions for giving up the lot near the zoo, including a lease extension on its easements on other land in the park and some clarifying of issues pertaining to those easements. Proceeds from the UAMS sale presumably would go to the park, perhaps for the expansion across I-630 to the south.
UPDATE: My FOI request has dislodged a draft of the proposed rewritten lease between the city and the War Memorial Stadium Commission. Some key elements: Lease extended to 2018 with five-year renewal option. The stadium will build a walking track around the stadium. The stadium will build a $7.5 million new press box by August 2010. (From state, bond and operating sources.) If the Razorbacks stop playing in Little Rock, the lease deal is kaput.
And here is the deal the City Board will be asked to consider that covers all elements of the privately agreed-on deal involving Ray Winder, the Zoo and the Stadium.
A City Hall critic notes that the promise to do all this in public got lost somewhere along the way.
By the way, the deal means Ray Winder ultimately will be razed. Its lack of value is one reason for a difference between UAMS and the city, to date of valuations of $1.1 million and $1.6 million on the property.