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NLR OK’d to create dirt-bike, ATV park

by Jake Sandlin | September 27, 2011 at 5:39 a.m.

— The North Little Rock City Council approved on Monday an opportunity for the city to create a “motorized vehicle park” for dirt bikers and all-terrain vehicles on 160 acres off Interstate 440 and U.S. 165.

The city council approved buying the property for $318,860. The city will use a state Highway and Transportation Department grant of $255,088 with the remaining $63,772 donated from the property owners led by the Jim Ott family.

The council passed two resolutions, 6-0 each. One resolution was for buying the land and the other to set state Department of Environmental Quality restrictions on the site — including a prohibition on wells, using the site only for recreational purposes, and releasing the city from any responsibility regarding pre-existing contamination. Aldermen Bruce Foutch and Murry Witcher were absent.

The city is also working with the state Game and Fish Commission to have the commission donate an adjacent 43 acres to the city to use for public fishing at on-site lakes and a waterway that joins the Arkansas River, North Little Rock Planning Director Robert Voyles said.

Obtaining the land for offroad vehicles to use came from a suggestion from Highway Department officials that North Little Rock apply for a grant from a state Motorized Vehicle Park Fund, Voyles said. It took three years to locate a site and fulfill required environmental regulations and tests, he added.

“We found this location that we thought would be opportune for that,” he told the council. “Then we’ve worked with the Game and Fish Commission to expand that to about 200 acres. They are asking for that to be available for fishing and that is our intent.”

When the city completes the purchase of the 160 acres, the property will be annexed into the city, Voyles said. Mayor Patrick Hays said he had believed the site already was in the city limits.

“I wasn’t totally aware that it wasn’t,” Hays said.

Voyles replied that there will be legislation coming to the city council “right away” for the annexation. Since the city would be the owner, there would be no problem with the “voluntary” annexation process.

Aldermen asked about policing the area, maintenance and whether park rules under the city’s Parks Department would apply to the property or whether the council should establish separate regulations.

City Attorney Jason Carter said the oversight of the property hadn’t been determined, but if the site is “put under the Parks Department, then those rules and regulations would apply to it.”

Off-road vehicle clubs have already volunteered to lay out trails and help maintain the property, Voyles said, so the site can be used for large competitive events.

“We’re expecting this to be kept natural, except for the trails to be laid out,” Voyles said.

Rules can be established to treat the site as a city park, Voyles said, as long as space is provided for the motorized vehicle park because that is the purpose of the state funds. A parking area will be on the property’s north end, he added.

“I think it’s an exciting opportunity,” Hays said. “It’s just a unique opportunity for the city at a minimal cost.”

Arkansas, Pages 7 on 09/27/2011

Print Headline: NLR OK’d to create dirt-bike, ATV park


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