With sale of its three-acre portion of the old Ray Winder Field to UAMS finally complete, the city of Little Rock has gone to work on replacing the lost War Memorial Park land. The old ballpark is going to be turned into a parking lot and city policy now encourages replacement of lost park land.
The city has $1.3 million from the sale. It is looking across the formidable barrier of Interstate 630 to replace the lost acreage – specifically a three-block strip of land bounded by Van Buren on the west, 11th Street on the south, the freeway on the north and, on the east, city-owned green space along Jonesboro Drive, the southern entrance to War Memorial Park across a freeway bridge.
An appraisal firm has sent letters to owners of 12 properties about potential purchases. The letters prompted some fear that the city was already moving on acquisitions for the 28 acres to be acquired for a research park to be funded by new tax dollars. But that process is not yet underway.
City Manager Bruce Moore says the city does not yet have specific park development plans for the new acreage. Assistant City Manager Bryan Day referred to Mayor Mark Stodola the question of whether the city would condemn the land if owners don't think prices are high enough or are unwilling to sell at any price. Stodola had not responded at press time.