City, school district plan to purchase Lewis Park

Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

Fayetteville City Council members on Tuesday agreed to partner with the Fayetteville School District to purchase Lewis Park from the University of Arkansas’ Division of Agriculture.

The city has leased the park from the UA division since 1993 for its youth soccer program.

As the 25-year lease neared completion, the school in 2017 announced plans to sell the property to help fund upgrades to its laboratory and associated equipment, but a group of residents rallied to save the park.

Will Dockery, one of the organizers of a group called Save Lewis, told the Flyer that he didn’t expect to be able to raise enough money to buy the land, but he hoped to raise enough attention to somehow help facilitate an agreement to keep the park intact.

The group’s efforts led to a one-year extension of the lease, which gave the city some time to find a potential solution.

“I certainly am in support of preserving all the green space in this city that I can,” Mayor Jordan said at the time. “But right now I don’t see the finances needed to purchase another piece of property.”

Eventually, an idea to include park land purchasing funds in the 2019 bond election was given the green light, and then approved by voters in the April special election.

The agreement with the school district includes an even split of the $3.5 million purchase price for the park. The city’s money will come from the $2.4 million approved as part of the bond package.

City Attorney Kit Williams said the two entities will eventually split the land, but the sale must happen before that can be requested.

The University of Arkansas System board is expected to approve the purchase at its next meeting on Sept. 12.