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CAW land to city

80 acres in Natural Steps to be used for soccer.

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NEW SOCCER FIELD: Star marks CAW land conveyed to city.
  • NEW SOCCER FIELD: Star marks CAW land conveyed to city.

The city of Little Rock will use $625,000 from its recent bond refinancing to build soccer fields on land behind the Lake Maumelle dam.

The land, on state Hwy. 300, is about 80 acres. Central Arkansas Water commissioners voted unanimously Sept. 10 to transfer the property to the city. CAW retains an easement on the property to provide access for repairs or other construction projects at the dam and pump station. The deed limits the use of the land to recreational purposes.

The property has been behind an eight-foot fence topped with concertina wire since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The fence will be moved back behind the city's property; CAW apparently believes it's safe to come a little closer now.

Barry Haas, who has fought to keep development away from the lake's watershed, spoke against the land transfer before the commission vote. Haas noted that the water department had argued that it needed the land for the protection of the lake when it condemned the property in 1959.

Haas called it “bad policy” to sell to the city land once taken from private property owners. Haas also noted that the land, in an area called Natural Steps, is well outside the city limits and developing it as a soccer field will do little for any but the “well-connected folks in the western part of town.” The property is five miles outside the city limits.

Haas had previously cited the likelihood of greatly increased traffic on the two-lane highway as a problem.
The fields will be built under an operating agreement with the Little Rock Futbol Club and Life Champs and should be ready by the end of 2010, Deputy City Parks Director Mark Webre said. No lights will be installed in the “first phase” of park development, he said.

Little Rock astronomers have also raised objections to development of the property, which is near a sky viewing site.  Webre said city Traffic Engineer Bill Henry didn't believe traffic would be as bad as at Pinnacle Mountain State Park.

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