By Sarah Terry, THE MORNING NEWS
FAYETTEVILLE — Fayetteville’s new library will have a natural park nearby. The City Council on Tuesday bought a 2.44-acre wooded tract between Gregg and West avenues just southwest of the Blair Library.
The property was owned by renowned architect E. Fay Jones, who died Aug. 30. Half of the $100,000 price was paid with $50,000 from the sale of the Wilson Spring Business Park, a 289-acre tract the city sold in 2003 for $5.2 million.
The remaining $50,000 was allotted by the city’s tree and trails task force, which spent half its remaining money on the park purchase. The rest of the task force’s money was dedicated Tuesday to the purchase of 2.46 acres of wetland prairie west of South Duncan Avenue. Developer James Mathias planned to build a 36-unit apartment complex on the site.
Mathias told residents of the Town Branch Neighborhood Association that they can buy the property if they can raise $125,000 by May 10 — 17 days before his building permit expires.
Melissa Terry, who serves on the task force, said the neighborhood association could combine the $50,000 from the task force with grants to fund the remaining $75,000. She noted that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service awards matching grants up to $50,000.
The task force money will be applied to purchasing the Scull Creek corridor right of way if the neighborhood association can not raise all its money.
Tuesday’s two purchases committed the remainder of the task force’s funds, dissolving the group. The six-member group formed in April 2001 to buy undeveloped parcels of preserved land for the city as part of a lawsuit settlement agreement.
The lawsuit was filed in May 2000 after the council’s approval of Steele Crossing Shopping Center, which failed to preserve the 15 percent minimum tree canopy required by the city’s tree preservation ordinance. The settlement required the city to set aside $450,000 in taxpayer money for the acquisition of trail right of way, environmentally sensitive land and conservation easements.
Last year, the task force purchased 21.35 acres between U.S. 71 and Razorback Road, secured acreage along Clabber Creek and donated money to the purchase of 67 acres on Mount Sequoyah.