65-acre park proposed on Razorback Golf Course land in west Fayetteville

The old Razorback Golf Course property is located off Deane Solomon Road in west Fayetteville.

Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

Update: The Parks & Recreation Advisory board recommended acceptance of the park land. Next up, the proposal will head to the Planning Commission at a to-be-determined date.

The old Razorback Golf Course could one day be home to a new 65-acre park in west Fayetteville.

Members of the Fayetteville Parks & Recreation Advisory Board will today (April 6) consider a proposal that would designate a portion of the former golf course property as a future park that, once completed, would be roughly twice the size of the expanded Gulley Park, and nearly three times the size of Wilson Park.

The land is currently owned by locals Laura and Craig Underwood, who purchased the land in 2017. Their plan at the time, Underwood said, was to hang on to the property for 10-15 years as an investment.

Craig said he attended meetings organized by the Walton Foundation a few years ago that led him to begin considering the possibility of using a portion of the property as park land.

“I have so many fond memories of growing up and spending time at Gulley Park, and spending time with our kids there as they were growing up,” Craig said. “We started discussing the feasibility of donating a portion of the property for a big park in that area of town.”

Underwood, who was involved in the development of The Cliffs apartment complex back in the 1990s, said throwing around ideas for the property led to the idea to develop a 602-unit apartment complex on a portion of the land, along with some Neighborhood Services commercial property as part of a planned zoning district.

The development would require the Underwood’s to donate around 12 acres of land, or about $600,000 through the city’s current parkland dedication ordinance, but Craig said they liked the idea of a larger park.

“The more we started looking at it, we decided as long as we can have 602 units on the hill, it doesn’t matter if it’s on 30 acres or 50 acres,” he said. “And if we can do it on 30, that means we have more room for a park.”

It isn’t the first time the former golf course land has been considered for development.

A proposal in 2016 from Lindsey Management was abandoned after aldermen rejected a rezoning request that would’ve allowed up to 730 residential units on the property, including 480 apartments and a mix of commercial spaces. The idea was also partially opposed by the Planning Commission, and neighbors who cited concerns with a number of issues including traffic safety, drainage, use compatibility, and overall quality of life.

It was under contract a second time, also in 2016, when before developer Bart Bauer terminated the real estate contract for the property, where he’d planned to build low-density single-family homes and a small quadplex subdivision. Both of the earlier attempts to develop the property were met with strong opposition by the neighbors.

Neighborhood resident John Scott Bull, one of the most outspoken locals opposed the first two developments, posted a long note in support of the Underwood’s proposal on Facebook.

Bull cited several reasons for the support in his post, including his belief that it will increase property values in the neighborhood, and his preference for the PZD zoning, among others.

The Parks & Rec board will only consider the parkland dedication portion of the proposal, but those items would be contingent on the eventual approval of the Planning Commission and eventually, the City Council. More information on the criteria the board considers when approving a parkland dedication request is available on the city’s website.

The board will meet at 5:30 p.m. Monday, but because of concerns over COVID-19, the meeting will be held virtually via Zoom. To participate, visit the registration link here.

Proposed location of Underwood Park