City Ponders Park Plan

Key Question is How To Pay For $27.7 Million Project

Posted: February 3, 2013 at 5 a.m.

A sign marks the entrance to a planned regional park in south Fayetteville. SIGN OF THINGS TO COME

In the 2 1/2 years since a massive, mixed-use development called SouthPass went belly up, city officials have been wondering how to build a 200-acre regional park that was supposed to go hand-in-hand with the private project.

At A Glance

What Is SouthPass?

The SouthPass project was part of a public-private partnership brokered by former Mayor Dan Coody in 2004.

SouthPass developers John Nock, Richard Alexander, Hank Broyles and Steve Aust agreed to donate 200 acres for the regional park and give the city $1 million in exchange for the city annexing the property, resolving environmental issues and sharing the cost of extending utilities to the development.

City Council members approved zoning and development plans for 750 houses, 2,900 apartments, 630 condominiums and 360,000-square-feet of commercial space in 2008.

Development never occurred, and Danville-based Chambers Bank, the lender for the SouthPass project, acquired the property in lieu of foreclosure in 2010. Chambers deeded the 200 acres for the regional park to the city later that year. The bank agreed to make good on the $1 million commitment as development occurs.

J.R. Meeks, vice president for the bank, said Thursday, “Chambers believes (the regional park) will be a good project for the region, for the city and for all of Northwest Arkansas.”

Meeks said the bank is marketing roughly 660 acres of the former SouthPass site. The SouthPass project, including parkland, was 872 acres.

“We’re still working with a few different groups,” he said. “We feel that banks aren’t in the business to own real estate. We are still optimistic that we will be selling the property.”

Source: Staff Report

At A Glance

Former Landfill

The former C&L Landfill occupied 33 acres of the planned park from 1972 to 1976, according to Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality records. Katherine Benenati, spokeswoman for the department, said $3.8 million from the Post Closure Trust Fund will be used to repair an earthern cap on the landfill. A portion of fees that landfills charge goes into the fund.

Benenati couldn’t provide a timeline for the repair. Connie Edmonston, Fayetteville Parks and Recreation director, said the work wouldn’t prevent regional park construction.

The former landfill will become an open, multiuse area, according to preliminary park designs.

Source: Arkansas Department Of Environmental Quality, Fayetteville Parks and Recreation Department

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