Fayetteville closes on Mount Kessler land

Frank Sharp leads a tour through “Rock City,” a portion of the historic Mount Kessler trail known for its stunning rock formations on either side of the path.

Photo by Caroline Bauman

City officials last week closed on a deal to buy 328 acres of woodland tucked away on Mount Kessler in the southwest corner of Fayetteville.

Mayor Lioneld Jordan delivered a $3 million check to Chambers Bank representatives on Wednesday to finalize the deal, which was unanimously approved by City Council members in February.

The $3 million purchase was made using $1.5 million in city reserves and a $1.5 million matching grant from the Walton Family Foundation. The city will get $300,000 back, thanks to a three-year pledge from the Fayetteville Natural Heritage Association.

Graphic: Todd Gill, Flyer staff

The property includes several miles of hiking and mountain biking trails, and sits next to the future home of Fayetteville’s 200-acre regional park.

As a condition of the grant, the city must build a trailhead for public access to the property within 90 days.

Jeremy Pate, city Development Services director, said Thursday a location hasn’t yet been finalized, but wherever the trailhead is built, it’ll likely be a temporary solution.

Pate said a permanent trailhead will be constructed as part of the new regional park once that area is developed.

Aside from the land included in the sale agreement, Chambers Bank donated another 48 acres to the city as future parkland dedication credit.

The acquisition of the hillside property creates almost 600 acres of parkland in southwest Fayetteville, and marks the end of a nearly 10-year campaign by Mount Kessler settler Frank Sharp to preserve the land for recreation and education use.