The Fort Smith Board of Directors has approved an ordinance appropriating funds that will allow the city to purchase property owned by ACME Brick Co. for a city park. It’s a deal one director said has the potential to be “an extraordinary project.”
The board unanimously approved the appropriation of $2.88 million for the purchase of the former ACME Brick Co. property along Old Greenwood Road once used as a materials quarry and brick production facility. The property has been deemed beneficial by city officials to the City of Fort Smith for parks and recreation purposes, as well as stormwater mitigation purposes.
The former quarry property on the west side of Old Greenwood Road has been identified for mountain biking and hiking trails and has room for amenities to support those activities. The property also includes pieces along Old Greenwood Road that could be developed into commercial properties to support recreation activities, the city memo noted.
The former brick kiln area on the east side of Old Greenwood Road has been identified for potential use of a pond or water feature that would serve stormwater detention purposes during periods of heavy rainfall, thereby mitigating the impact of flash flooding in the Maybranch drainage area, the memo states.
City 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 authorized negotiation only, stating that any purchase agreement would require board approval.
Initial plans indicate 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.
ACME Brick was asking $3.507 million for the three parcels of the property that total 113 acres. The ordinance approved Tuesday (Oct. 10) states that approximately $1.764 million for the purchase will come from the city’s general fund and the remaining approximately $1.116 million would come from the streets 1% sales tax for streets, bridges, and associated drainage.
Director Lavon Morton said that the amenities the park will add to the city along with the drainage project added with the fact that the city will be removing an eye sore in the middle of the city makes this a “really an extraordinary project.”
“The city did the right thing on this,” Morton said. “I think the city did exactly what it should have done. Everyone here and everyone not here in the city will benefit from this for years to come.”
The negotiated agreement for the sale of the property states that due diligence for surveys and other info is to be conducted within 60 days, said Josh Buchfink, the city’s public relations manager. He said he assumes there will be opportunities for public input, but nothing has been set yet.
Development cost for the park has not been determined. The storm water detention part of the project, which will be approximately 14 to 19 acres of the property, will be approximately $6 million, though the entire plan for that has not yet been determined either, said Deputy City Administrator Jeff Dingman.