by Max Brantley
Residents of Oak Forest and other neighborhoods have been buzzing with news of a land appraiser sending letters about the city of Little Rock's planned acquisition of property south of Interstate 630 near the Little Rock Zoo. Is the land work for the tax-supported research park underway?
But a representative of an appraisal firm has been contacting owners of about a dozen pieces of property in a strip parallel to existing city-owned land along Jonesboro Drive on the south side of I-630 from the zoo and the entrance of what was once Ray Winder Field.
City Manager Bruce Moore explains that this is land the city was required to purchase to offset the loss of about three acres of War Memorial Park land the city had owned as part of Ray Winder Field, sold recently to UAMS and soon to be converted to a parking lot. The land acquisition process was jump-started after approval of the city sales tax increase last month, said Tim Heiple, who has the contract to do the legal groundwork for property acquisition. There are no current plans for development of this property, Moore said, and I haven't got an estimate yet on acquisition cost. The city sold Ray Winder land for $1.3 million. The property being purchased is bounded by 11th Street, Van Buren, I-630 and the city right of way along Jonesboro.
PS — As was the case with airport land acquisition, it's by no means certain these city purchases will be gladly received.