ACME declines to donate property, forcing Fort Smith officials to negotiate a price

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 4,186 views 

The Fort Smith Board of Directors (BOD) during a special meeting following the board’s study session Tuesday (Aug. 22) approved two resolutions to allow Fort Smith City Administrator Carl Geffken to enter into negotiations to purchase property for the city.

The first resolution passed authorizes Geffken to negotiate with ACME Brick for property to be used for a detention pond for stormwater mitigation and a city park. The resolution authorizes negotiation only. Any purchase agreement will require board approval at a future date.

The ACME Brick property on Old Greenwood Road, which consists of three parcels, is listed for sale and has been listed for sale as of 2018, Geffken said. It has been identified as being useful to the city for stormwater mitigation facilities and public park amenities, a memo from Deputy City Administrator Jeff Dingman said.

The BOD adopted a resolution July 18 requesting that the owner of the property donate the property to the city. At the time, the board noted that the parcel of land on the west side of Old Greenwood Road could be developed into a mountain bike and multi-purpose trail park. The parcel of land immediately adjacent to the east of Old Greenwood Road, which was also the site of the former brick plant, plus part of the third parcel of land adjacent and to the east of the second parcel has the potential to become a detention pond to reduce flooding in May Branch Creek. The pond would reduce flooding by 40% in the Kinkaid and Park avenues areas, Geffken said. The remaining area of the third parcel could be used for mixed-use development.

“Having the land to benefit Fort Smith and its residents in ways that could transform the lives of many of our residents is why we are requesting ACME Brick to donate the three parcels to the City of Fort Smith,” a memo in support of the resolution said.

In a letter to ACME Brick Co., city administration said that they “hope to continue to celebrate the legacy of the ACME Brick Company’s presence in Fort Smith through the ACME Brick Yard Park.”

The owners of the property, however, declined to donate the property during a phone call with city administration. The resolution authorizes Geffken to enter into negotiation with the property owner for the purchase of the land, either in whole or in part, for the purpose of stormwater mitigation and public park amenities.

Director Kevin Settle suggested that because of the uses for the land, the city could look at eminent domain. Director Lavon Morton said eminent domain should only be considered if after negotiations, the city feels the owner is not negotiating in good faith.

The second resolution authorizes Geffken to negotiate and enter into a purchase agreement for the acquisition of real property at 4501 Burrough Road. The resolution set a price cap to not exceed $500,000.

“As has been discussed on several occasions, the Fort Smith Police Department is in need of a precinct facility to more adequately serve the growth areas in the southern and southeastern portions of the city. Such a precinct will benefit both the police department and the public that is served,” a memo from Dingman said.

The one-acre parcel of land noted is for sale and meets the needs for this precinct facility, the memo said. The land, which is near Fire Station No. 10, has an existing building that can be modified to meet the needs of the department, the memo said.

“Chief Baker concurs that the property will meet the needs of the Fort Smith Police Department,” Dingman said in the memo.

Funds are available in the Fort Smith Police Department budget for the purchase and to make the anticipated modifications to the facility.