The North Little Rock City Council on Monday named a new city park and gave its OK to a new way to address residential parking problems.
It unanimously approved a resolution naming a new 160-acre park along the Arkansas River for the Ott family, which sold the land to the city for about $260,000.
To make way for the new park south of Arkansas Highway 165, east of Interstate 440 and near the Arkansas River, the council unanimously agreed to authorize Mayor Patrick Hays and City Clerk Diane Whitbey to enter into a lease of 6.5 acres for access and public parking for the adjoining park property.
The city will lease the 6.5 acres for $400 annually from the Ott family.
Hays said the park itself will be used primarily for the use of off-road recreational vehicles and fishing. It has several ponds and small lakes suitable for fishing.
Work already has begun on building trails and paths on the undeveloped park acreage.
The project is a joint effort of the city of North Little Rock and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
Robert Voyles, director of the city’s planning department, said the Ott Park project is being funded through an 80 percent/20 percent split with the state. Because the 160 acres was valued at $327,000 by the state and because the Ott family agreed to reduce their sale price by $65,000, the city was able to use the 20 percent discount as its part of the match.
He said Wednesday that Ott Park may be open to the public as soon as this fall, depending on weather and the progress of further site work.
Because the use of off-road vehicles is banned in many state parks and other public venues, the commission was interested in helping to establish a place where such recreational activity was permitted.
Ward 4 Aldermen Murry Witcher and Charlie Hight in late June proposed prohibiting residents citywide from parking their vehicles in the side and front yards of homes, but at the City Council meeting July 9 they instead put forward an amendment creating a third way for homeowners to establish restricted parking districts.
Under a city ordinance enacted in 2008, property owners can petition for the creation of a parking district within a district or an organization having authority over a district can apply for one.
Witcher’s and Hight’s new proposal will allow neighborhood associations to request the establishment by the city of a district banning such yard parking where they live. Such a request also would require the formal support from both of the aldermen representing the ward where the neighborhood is located and the support of the mayor before coming before the full council for a final consideration.
In contrast to several people who spoke at the July 9 meeting for and against the proposal, only two residents had anything to say about it Monday. One was opposed and one was in favor.
Alderwoman Debi Ross recommended an amendment requiring the association initiating the creation of a parking district to remain in good standing under state law.
She, Witcher, Hight, Alderman Maurice Taylor and Alderwoman Linda Robinson voted for the parking measure. Aldermen Bruce Foutch and Steve Baxter voted against it. Alderwoman Beth White was absent because of the death of her father.
In other business, the council agreed to:
• Condemn structures that are in a state of disrepair at 904-906 W. 23rd St., 1710 W. Long 17th St., 2708 Gribble St., 1215 W. Eighth St., 2101 Moss St., 904 N. “G” St., 2013 Schaer St. and 4900 Rogers St.;
• Appoint Kristal Clark to the History Commission;
• Reappoint Eddie Powell to the Central Arkansas Water commission;
• Accept a bid of $71,971 for the purchase of two trucks and one automobile from Bale Chevrolet for use by the fire department;
• Express the willingness of the city to use federal aid for the next phase of work on the Levy trail project;
• Grant conditional uses for a warehouse at the northwest end of Michaela Drive, a day care center at 320 N. Locust St. and for a self-serve ice vending unit at 4107 E. Broadway.
• Endorse a joint-use agreement with Communities Putting Prevention to Work and Fit 2 Live for the use of fitness equipment and facilities.
• Release liens on property at 1301 W. 10th St. and 1513 E. Second St.