story by Aric Mitchell
The Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority (FCRA) may have been on a two-month hiatus from regularly scheduled meetings, but they were back with a vengeance Thursday afternoon moving forward on six recommendations from the Real Estate Review Committee (RERC), tackling the issue of whether or not to assume management of the Deer Trails Golf Course for 2012, making numerous budget adjustments, and introducing a new board member.
FCRA board members voted to set aside 25 acres for the Camp Hope for Heroes at Chaffee Crossing project. The property is located adjacent to the Darby RV Park and the I-49 Right of Way just south of FCRA offices. Camp Hope for Heroes was recently featured on KFSM.
“This has been progressing for about a year and a half. Camp Hope is a non-profit that was developed in large part due to the interest of veterans’ families. We’ve got vets living in boxes down by the (Arkansas) River. Vets not getting the services they deserve because they don’t know where to get them. Several roaming the streets without homes. The purpose of this facility is to assess the vet, find out what his needs are, and then deliver on those needs. It will have a medical ward, a psychological, and temporary housing. The VA will be heavily involved in the operation,” FCRA Executive Director Ivy Owen said.
In other developments, RERC Representative Bob Bradford recommended approval to sell a 26.1-acre land on Roberts Boulevard. Buyer David Harp’s offer of $541,862, or $20,761 per acre met with unanimous board approval contingent on Harp reporting by Dec. 15 whether the railroad will allow use of its site for unloading inventory (automobiles). Harp is spearheading an auto auction idea reported in August.
Also Thursday, Fort Smith Petro Environmental’s move to purchase 5.4 acres it had been leasing was accepted without opposition. The purchase price for the acreage is $79,200.
COBC LLC, who offered to purchase 20 acres at I-49 and Roberts Boulevard, was not so lucky. Its $400,000 offer on a property, which was to be used for a small retail shopping strip, was rejected unanimously.
“I believe that this parcel is one of our most valuable,” Bradford said, noting that COBC would also build commercial facilities in a zone marked for industrial use as a reason for the refusal.
Following the vote, the board approved the city of Fort Smith’s request for a parcel of land adjacent to the new fire station located on Massard for construction of a public street. The land will provide “city-standard street access to property behind the new fire station,” Bradford said.
Finally, a small excess parcel of land (2.85 acres) that should have been part of an original conveyance, but was “overlooked” following the realignment of the old and new Chad Colley Boulevards, was donated to Mars Pet Care.
DEER TRAILS GOLF COURSE
FCRA members also weighed an option to take over management of the Deer Trails Golf Course Thursday, noting that approximately $55,520 in needed equipment and improvements will have to be acquired to properly manage the property until the Trust can find an interested buyer or lessee.
“I don’t think we think it’s (Deer Trail) going to pay for itself,” board member Galen Hunter said. “We don’t see it cash flowing right now, and we’re going into it expecting to subsidize it.”
The board voted to include the golf course as a line item in the 2012 proposed budget, which will be up for voting at next month’s meeting. But whatever the FCRA decides, the plan is to not keep Deer Trails for long.
“It’s understood among the people, who met on this (the Golf Course Committee), that we need to pursue, with due diligence, a new operator. We’re not going to be in the golf course business any longer than we have to be,” Owen said.
END-OF-YEAR BUDGET OUTLOOK
As the end of 2011 nears, the board was able to get a better look at actual revenues versus expenses, which led to unanimous approval of budget adjustments.
Revenue increased from $3,309,900 in projected revenue to $5,436,900 in actual. Property sales throughout the year accounted for most of the approximate $2.1 million differential.
Expenses also rose from $2,601,175, to $3,669,675, with higher than expected costs in advertising and marketing, closing costs, capital expenditures, commission expenses, construction and development, demolition, fuel, legal costs, and maintenance and repairs, making up the changes.
Still, the FCRA was able to come out more than $1 million better than expected with a gain of around $1.7 million instead of the projected $708,725.
The board member position vacated by Linda Schmidt was filled by Paul McCollom. McCollom met with unanimous approval following the board’s recognition of Schmidt for her years of service.
“It’s been ingrained in my soul that Chaffee is important to this community,” said McCollom, a self-described “fourth generation Fort Smithian.”
McCollom continued: “We’ve in some ways wasted a lot of time, waiting 14 years for things to happen, but since you all (the FCRA) have been involved, it’s moved along tremendously, and I just want to be a part of it. We have the greatest opportunity right here (at Chaffee) to create a very special place for the creation of jobs and development of people’s lives. Whatever it takes, I’ll do anything because I want it to succeed.”