Monday, July 18, 2011

Two Rivers Bridge: On Private Land?

Unlikely, but this article in the Arkansas Times is causing a bit of buzz:

The rumor mill is buzzing that the new Two Rivers Bridge for pedestrians and bikers might land on property the county and city don't own.
The city and county say that's not so. But local businessmen, John Ryles and Stephen Whitwell, claim otherwise. Public officials say one has even been heard suggesting he might have the right to charge a toll for use of his property. I've reached Ryles. He'll only say, "It's premature to comment." Naturally, if he has a claim, he undoubtedly has a price he'd accept to clear matters up short of building a toll plaza.
A corporate entity in which the men have an interest (they're partners in Whitwell and Ryles Real Estate Investments), has been paying property taxes on the land. According to the assessor, they own dozens of parcels in Pulaski County, some purchased at state delinquent tax sales. The parcel in question is said to be a small portion of the roughly 488 acres on what used to be known as Sullivan Island. The city of Little Rock acquired the land through condemnation in the 1970s and won a Supreme Court case on it in 1976.
The county, which built the $5.3 million bridge, said it had to certify the bridge was on public land to qualify for federal assistance. Sherman Smith, the public works director, said the city of Little Rock said, "Yes, we own the land clear and free." The bridge spans the Little Maumelle River to link a riverside trail with Two Rivers Park. The eastern half, where the bridge lands, is on city park property and the western half on county land.

This is not going to go anywhere, but makes for interesting reading in the  week before the bridge is to open to the public. The snarky comments make following the link to the article worthwhile.

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