Barling directors appoint Beam as ex-officio rep on FCRA board

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 270 views 

The Barling Board of Directors has appointed Steve Beam as the city’s ex-officio member of the Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority (FCRA) Board of Trustees. Beam has been a vocal critic of FCRA Executive Director Daniel Mann.

Barling Mayor Greg Murray has served as Barling’s ex-officio member on the board. Fort Smith Mayor George McGill and Sebastian County Judge Steve Hotz also serve as ex-officio members of the board. Ex-officio members cannot vote on FCRA board items but can participate in board discussions, Board of Trustees Chairman Dean Gibson said.

Beam was a member of the Barling Board of Directors when the FCRA trust was formed in 1997 to oversee redevelopment of 6,000 acres of land released by the U.S. Army from Fort Chaffee as part of a Base Realignment and Closure downsizing. The trust has four beneficiaries – the cities of Barling, Fort Smith and Greenwood, and Sebastian County.

Barling City Administrator Steve Core said at Tuesday’s (June 25) Barling board meeting that he wanted Beam to be Barling’s ex-officio member on the trust board because it is best to have someone there who sat in on some of the meetings of how that trust was founded.

“I want somebody that sat there and heard the discussion,” Core said. “You don’t go into … arguing with anybody or negotiating with anybody without somebody who was there when the ground was first cast.”

Murray said he thought it was a good idea to make Beam the ex-officio member because there are times he is not able to make the meetings and Beam would be able to be present at them.

Beam, president of Steve Beam Construction, has been vocal over the past year about his dissatisfaction with how things are being handled with the FCRA. He filed a complaint last year with the Arkansas Real Estate Commission stating that Mann and FCRA may have violated state real estate licensing law because of a stipulation in Mann’s contract that FCRA agrees to pay Mann a “merit compensation” of 2% of the sale price of all real property transactions in which FCRA is the seller of the property as long as he is the CEO.

Dalton Person, FCRA attorney, had no comment on the matter. Gibson said Wednesday he did not know if Barling could name someone as its ex-officio member, but would be happy to look into the matter.

“I have no idea. I know that they could have another administrator for the city be there instead of the mayor,” Gibson said.

Controversy around FCRA has developed over the past year as many have called for the dissolution of the trust. The cities of Barling, Fort Smith and Greenwood and the Sebastian County Quorum Court have passed resolutions calling for FCRA dissolution. Only the authority board can vote to dissolve the organization.

The FCRA Board of Trustees passed a resolution May 16 to continue forward “in its successful mission pursuant to the terms of the Indenture of Trust agreed upon by the Beneficiaries on February 19, 1997.” The resolution also states that the trustees believe it is in the best interest of the trust to work in coordination and consultation with the beneficiaries to openly discuss operations of the trust until the trustees decide it is time to dissolve.

Greenwood Mayor Doug Kinslow, Murray and Barling City Administrator Steve Core, Hotz, and Fort Smith City Administrator Carl Geffken and Deputy City Administrator Jeff Dingman attended a meeting June 10 with Mann and Gibson to begin discussing the process of a possible dissolution of the FCRA trust. At that meeting, beneficiaries expressed their desire to set a date for dissolution, but Mann and Gibson declined to discuss an exact date. Mann has in the past given a timeline from three to 10 years, based on the amount of trust land still available for sale, and recently said he is still comfortable with that timeline. He said being able to narrow it down more is not now possible.

The group has agreed to meet again to review projections of revenue and expenses for the next five or more years and review what land is still available for sale at Chaffee.