LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- If you believe bigger is better, you'll like what is going on at War Memorial Park. The Little Rock Board of Directors voted Tuesday to expand the park south of I-630.
The board approved the purchase of two homes on Van Buren Street, bringing the total to three so far. The city said they aren't taking these homes, but rather bought them at fair market value from willing sellers.
"Thirty years, over 35 years actually," said Jane Scott. That's how long she has lived at 805 Van Buren Street in Little Rock, but last spring, a heavy storm dropped a heavy burden on Scott and her beloved home. "The two trees fell right on the house and did a lot of damage, so we were out of the house for awhile."
Scott made what repairs she could but eventually ran out of money when suddenly an unsuspecting buyer came to her door.
"When I heard from them, which wasn't very long ago, I said 'Okay,' you know now 'I don't have to fix this one,'" said Scott.
"We owned about 3.5 acres of land and the park policies and our policies of the city are to zero net loss, so by selling 3.5 acres of land, we needed to gain 3.5 acres," said Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola.
He said it all started with the sale of Ray Winder Field. The state of Arkansas owned the outfield of the legendary ball park and the city owned the infield. After the city sold their portion to UAMS, they set their sights on expanding War Memorial Park south of I-630 in an effort to revitalize the area. The move means buying homes like Scott's.
"Ultimately, there is 11 or 12 that we will be looking at that gradually, as people elect to want to move or transfer into other areas, we'll have an opportunity to look at purchasing," said Mayor Stodola.
While the purchase means tearing Scotts' home down, she said with so many repairs needed, that is just fine with her.
"You know, sometimes you don't know how you're going to feel about something. You think you do and then afterwards, later on you feel differently, but I'm not worried about it. I'm not worried about it," said Scott.
Scott said not all of her neighbors are as eager to move as she is, but the city said there is no rush. They're working with neighbors who want to sell and will wait for others who may change their minds.
Mayor Stodola said the Little Rock Zoo is reworking their master plan to possibly build new attractions on the purchased properties but for now, the city plans to leave the spaces open for park use.