The Little Rock Parks and Recreation Department
has scheduled a public hearing Thursday on creating a "family off road vehicle park" in the Section 13 Park
, a trouble-plagued piece of property the city purchased from Deltic Timber in 2001.
The hearing is at 6 p.m. at Joe T. Robinson High School.
However, the hearing was up in the air this afternoon because the city heard some concerns from neighbors about the idea. The city was weighing whether to delay a meeting until the dirt bike group and neighbors could get together. I hope to have final word later today.
UPDATE: The meeting has been postponed. Neighborhood meetings will happen first.
The city bought the 617 acres, with frontage on Garrison Road, with a bond issue of $3.5 million. The years since have brought only minor park developments but many complaints
. It has been used by unauthorized dirt bike and ATV riders, with resulting erosion problems, as well as for illegal hunting and target practice. Soccer fields and playground equipment have been vandalized. Neighboring property has been vandalized.
Neighbors learned this week that the city onApril 14 accepted proposals for a "development coordinator" of the park. As outlined:
The budget to implement this Project is forecasted to be derived primarily from volunteer time and labor participation from the organization in such areas as providing a presence at the Section 13 Park, multiple use trail maintenance, trail development and Park signage.
The organization is expected to assist in obtaining grants, awards or corporate sponsorships, as available, to maintain and expand present facilities and to assess future funding sources for ongoing Park improvements. However, Little Rock Parks and Recreation may provide funding for certain repairs or improvements subject to the availability of funds.
The Arkansas Dirt Riders,
an off-road motorcycle club, submitted a proposal to develop an off-road trail system in the park. This would include fences, signs and trail maintenance — all things the group said should address some problems the park and neighbors have experienced. It also proposes a volunteer ranger program for park supervision. The proposal hasn't been accepted by the city, but was scheduled for discussion Thursday.
Here's a dirt rider proposal.
Neighbors are concerned about noise from use of the park by bikes, but also about security. They don't challenge the good intentions or reputation of the Dirt Rider group, but fear that opening the park to this use will encourage more visitation by less responsible people. And they say the sheriff's office, which has patrol responsibility for land outside city limits, doesn't have resources to provide sufficient patrolling.
The dirt bike group has been encouraging its members to attend, saying on its website: "Our objective is to inform, not argue or debate. Please try to attend, look sharp and be proud of what our club has done and hopefully will do in the near future!"
Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin,
a motorcyclist, was said to be set to attend to speak for the dirt bikers.