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Land task force meets

The fifth meeting of the North Little Rock Land Task Force will be held today at 5 p.m. at the Patrick Henry Hays Senior Citizens Center where members are expected to discuss the quarry and Burns Park Lodge.

The fourth meeting was held on Dec. 6 where members covered a wide variety of city property issues. Members present were Joel Buckner, Evelyn Creal, John Crow, Charlie Hight, David Holsted, Roger Marlin, Kevin Newsom, Connie Phillips, Thomas Pownall, Kathleen Rea, and Debbie Strobel.

Discussions conducted by members at the last meeting included determining possible designations to be given to city properties other than parks. Members also discussed issues such as what should define low-impact development.

Members were advised that a marina has been approved near the city’s quarry property but one that fits within acceptable uses of a park.

City Alderman Steve Baxter spoke with Aldermen Maurice Taylor and Linda Robinson about getting Ward 2 aldermen involved in the discussion of city property in the Pike Avenue area.

Baxter said both aldermen expressed a liking to the idea of some parks-like structures with fencing along Pike. The desire would be a type of fencing that would look less prison-like than chain link. The extra benefit of funneling pedestrians to intersections was liked as well.

If the Arkansas State Highways and Transportation Department and the City of North Little Rock would agree to a fence in the Pike area, a couple of meetings west of Pike would be helpful.

The former Southern Cotton property, which is now city-owned, currently generates for North Little Rock $6,000 per month in gross rental revenues. The task force voted to recommend the city utilize the Southern Cotton property for economic development.

The task force also discussed the city’s Union Rescue property where John Gaudin’s group engaged in a land swap agreement with the city council where a low-rise condominium site was proposed. Members were advised that an agreement has not been closed yet.

The task force also discussed a city-owned 1,500 square-foot building in the area of 17th Street and Pike that is not currently being used should be utilized in some way.

The group also discussed the future of Parker Street, which is a current bike route and is being planned for conversion into a bike boulevard with no-through traffic. There is also the possibility that the area may be used as community garden space. A motion was made to designate the area as passive green space and offer empty buildings for community use but the issue was tabled until the next meeting until the task force has more information.

The city’s Smarthouse Way property could be sold for mixed-use, such as restaurants, condos, hotels, apartments, or an executive building. The large parking lot at Dickey-Stephens could be used for employee parking during the day. These areas were recommended for economic development.

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