Members of the Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority (FCRA) may in the near future consider ideas that alter the process by which property offers are known to the authority even if rejected by the authority’s CEO.
FCRA trustees met Wednesday (May 4) in their first-ever study session to discuss recent complaints about proposed property sales. The FCRA was created in 1997 to manage and sell more than 7,000 acres the U.S. Army returned to civilian control following a 1995 Base Realignment and Closure decision. The properties are in east Fort Smith and parts of Barling.
During the board’s April 21 meeting it was noted that some builders and business owners said they made several offers on property in the recent past that were never considered or given to the board.
“There was an offer of $945,000 to buy the golf course. Most of you don’t know anything about that,” said John Alford, a Fort Smith attorney, said at the April 21 meeting
Alford reiterated his point Wednesday, saying “multiple offers” to buy property “have sat on the executive directors desk” without response or review by the FCRA Real Estate Review Committee (RERC). Daniel Mann is the FCRA executive director and CEO. Alford asked board members to develop a process so that when a written, signed offer is made, there is a time period for a response, and a time period for the RERC to review the offer.
After almost an hour of discussion and debate between FCRA board members, there was consensus that an extra step – possibly a list of rejected offers with details about why they were rejected presented to board members – providing more history on property offers would be welcome.
“The reason we are here is because there are some that say that Daniel doesn’t let us know, as the board, property offers that have been made. So if we fix that problem,” FCRA Board Chair Dean Gibson said, implying that some solution to more offer transparency could address the complaints.
Saying he’s “kind of been all over the map” on the issue, FCRA board member Scott Archer said he trusts Mann to negotiate good deals, but also understands the complaints by some that not all offers get a review. He said it “would be a disaster for every offer” to go through the RERC and not be vetted by Mann, but said he thinks there may have been some deals that would have happened if they made it to the RERC.
“How do you referee that? … I don’t know the answer to that,” Archer said.
Gibson assigned Paul McCollom II, FCRA board member and RERC chair, Mann, and FCRA attorney Dalton Person to consider a solution, or solutions, and come back to a future board meeting with something to review.
Also, after Wednesday’s meeting Gibson told Talk Business & Politics that three offers noted at the April 21 meeting, including the $945,000 golf course offer, are now on the May 12 RERC agenda after the board learned about them.
In its 2021 annual report, the FCRA noted: “FCRA experienced a record-setting year in real estate sales, topping $5 million, and we expect a robust number of transactions in 2022. Our trustees and staff will continue to work diligently to maximize the investment of those proceeds for public benefit.”