Central Arkansas Water announced today they will hold a public meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 4, to discuss a lease-purchase agreement with the Trust For Public Lands (TPL) concerning the Winrock Grass Farm in West Pulaski County. The land, over 800 acres, sits in the Lake Maumelle watershed and protecting that land has been a top priority for Lake Maumelle advocates. The grass farm is owned by a group of investors who bought it in a deal brokered by Jay DeHaven.
For some good background info on what the land is worth, read this story by Leslie Peacock. The long and short of it is the land was appraised in April of this year for $5.4 million dollars. CAW CEO Graham Rich will announce the particulars at a press conference on Monday, but said the agreement reached between TPL and DeHaven was somewhere close to $12 million (give or take $500,000) for 915 acres.
Rich said the initial appraisal, which DeHaven was none too happy with, did seem low. A second appraisal, commissioned by TPL, came in at over $12 million -- a figure more consistent with what they've paid for land in the watershed before, Rich said. It will be interesting to find out some more specifics, such as why a plot of land that was bought for $4.5 million in 2005, underwent zero improvements and appraised for $5.4 in 2009 will now sell for approximately $12 million.
TPL will buy the land from its current owners, then funds from investors, including CAW, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commision and possibly the U.S. Forest Service, will be combined with funds set aside by Sen. Bob Johnson to complete the transaction. The press conference will be held at CAW headquarters at 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 2.