of the Tree and Trails Task Force toured three pieces of property
the group is considering purchasing with the remainder of its funds.
The stops on Friday's tour included the Town Branch neighborhood,
a lot off Sixth Street and a parcel adjacent to Gulley Park.
six-member task force formed in April 2001 seeking to purchase undeveloped
parcels of preserved land for the city as part of a lawsuit settlement
agreement. The lawsuit was filed in May 2000 in Washington County
Circuit Court, shortly after the City 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 agreement approved by the council required the city
to set aside $450,000 in taxpayer money for the acquisition of trail
rights-of-way and conservation easements.
this year, the group made its first purchase when it spent $294,500
to acquire three parcels of land between U.S. 71 and Razorback Road
totaling 21.35 acres. The group has $97,000 remaining in its account.
Among the sites the task force is considering is the 2.46-acre lot
in the Town Branch neighborhood. The property, which includes about
2 acres of wetland, is west of Duncan Avenue and neighbors Pinnacle
Foods and residential areas.
Terry, who represents the Sierra Club on the task force, said the
neighborhood lacks preserved greenspace. The closest parks - including
Greathouse Park, Walker Park and Wilson Park - require residents
to cross busy streets. "Everyone in this neighborhood has to cross
a state highway (to go to greenspace)," Terry said. "It would be
a big investment."
task force also stopped to view a 4-acre plot of land at the southeast
corner of Sixth Street and Paris Avenue. The final stop of the tour
was the pasture next to Gulley Park, on Township Road.
1 Alderwoman Brenda Thiel said she would not support using task
force money to purchase the pasture because it would likely be spent
to develop the park. "I would not support adding to this park,"
she said. "It would be used as a park, and that isn't what these
funds are for."
the task force's Sept. 12 meeting, Mayor Dan Coody asked members
to consider dedicating the remainder of its funds toward the purchase
of land on Mount Sequoyah. The city council approved a contract
at its April 1 meeting to pay $1.3 million during the next five
years for the preservation of 67 wooded acres on Mount Sequoyah's
east side. Following the council meeting, the task force agreed
to apply half of its money - about $93,000 - to the purchase of
Mount Sequoyah, while the city's administration worked to secure
land along Clabber Creek that the group had hoped to purchase.
than spend task force money to preserve the area, Coody met with
Sam Mathias of Mathias Properties to encourage the developer to
donate a portion of the Clabber Creek area for tax credit and offer
the remainder as parkland dedication. The group will meet with owners
of the land proposed for preservation before gathering again in
December to discuss their next course of action.