City of Fort Smith may buy ACME Brick land for $2.8 million

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 1,070 views 

Fort Smith may soon be the new owner of the ACME Brick property. The city and the ACME owners have come to an agreement on the sale of the old Acme brick quarry property to the city for $2.8 million, said Josh Buchfink, the city’s public relations manager.

The city’s Board of Directors approved a resolution Aug. 22 giving City Administrator Carl Geffken the authority 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.

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.

Plans for the 113 acre property call for mountain bike trails, hiking trails and a retention pond, Buchfink 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., city administration said 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 property owners declined to donate the property during a phone call with city administration.The negotiated agreement for the sale of the property states that due diligence is to be conducted within 60 days, Buchfink said. The agreement is pending approval from the board of directors, he added.

On May 12, Michael Mings, the city’s mobility coordinator, presented a report to the Fort Smith Parks and Recreation Commission of a conceptual plan for the yard to become the Brick Yard Park if the city were to purchase the property.

“The topography of the western parcel of the ACME Brick property makes it ideal for progressive-style mountain biking trails. While a property with over a century of excavation work may not be ideal for a majority of developers, the City of Fort Smith can leverage the elevation changes of the quarry for recreational purposes. With biking recently being adopted as the state sport of Arkansas, and with the growing demand for biking trails, we suggest that mountain biking trails be the primary recreational emphasis at the Brick Yard Park,” the report said.

The report also noted, “We believe the Brick Yard Park can serve as a space that brings people together in an area that once acted as a dividing line in our community. We propose that the park offer multiple gathering spaces for parties, concerts, outdoor learning, and communal interactions. Trailheads can also be used as a spot to meet and rest.”