The Saline County Quorum Court voted unanimously and without debate to approve the Saline County application to the Arkansas Parks and Tourism in its June 18, 2013 meeting. (That resolution can be viewed here.)
Any Quorum Court member who had objections to this resolution, or concerns about the park implementation and upkeep, had an opportunity to share those concerns. In her presentation to the Quorum Court, Julie Mayberry even addressed concern over upkeep stating that a plan will have to be developed and suggested a voluntary parks committee be established. Numerous residents of Saline County were present at the meeting to show their support for this endeavor. However, any resident who had objections to this park or grant application had the same opportunity. Notices of the public meeting were listed in the Saline Courier and The East Ender newspaper. Bulletins regarding the public meeting were placed at 16 locations. Facebook posts to remind people were frequent too. No one was turned away or not allowed to speak.
GRANTS: The application to the Department of Parks and Tourism is from Saline County, not the Little Rock South Lions Club. The only grant application through Lions Club is for General Improvement Funds, and a Lions Club International Grant due Dec. 30, 2013. All other grants that have been applied for are on the behalf of Saline County. Those two grants are the Parks and Tourism 50/50 matching grant and a grant to Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield. The expected date of notification on the Blue and You grant is Nov/Dec. 2013.
LAND: The property at 1041 Angel Court, Little Rock, AR 72206, which is the proposed location of "The Crossing at Angel Court," is currently owned by Andy and Julie Mayberry. The couple has signed commitment letters to donate the land to Saline County upon approval of an Arkansas State Park 50/50 matching grant.
The couple is not donating the land before approval of the grant because it would limit the matching opportunity. The land donation would be counted towards the 50/50 match only if it is donated after the grant is awarded. The couple paid to have an appraisal on the property in June to verify its possible value. The appraisal listed the 2.18 acres tract at $41,200.
The Mayberrys do not own any other land near this development and do not stand to gain increased property value on another piece of property because of this park. Contrary to some comments, the couple does not live next to the park and this park is not in the couple's backyard.
FUNDING: Saline County Judge Lanny Fite expressed concerns about the county accepting money for the development of a park before being awarded the matching grant. He asked the Mayberrys to find a non-profit to partner with and to basically hold onto donations until work on the property begins.
Both Andy and Julie did not feel comfortable with accepting the donations into the non-profit Community Connections, the parent non-profit for "The I CAN! Arts and Resource Center." The couple feared the "gray" area, since the couple resides on the board of the non-profit. "We wanted to make sure people who were donating to the park, knew without a doubt that the funds would go to the park and not other aspects of the I CAN! Arts and Resource Center," said Julie Mayberry.
So the couple asked "The Little Rock South Lions Club" to be a partner in this endeavor. Andy and Julie Mayberry are members of the Lions Club but are not current officers or board members. The organization is committed to improving the community and understands the impact a local park would make on the quality of life of all the residents. The LRS Lions Club voted unanimously to be a partner on this project and immediately set up a third bank account to keep funds clearly separated.
The East End Pharmacy, an active sponsor of the Lions Club's events, donated enough money to Lions Club to set up a website for the park (www.thecrossingatangelcourt.com) so that information about this park could be shared with as many people as possible.
The organization also has plans to apply for a matching grant through Lions Club International that would match up to $75,000. So any money raised locally could have the potential of being doubled.
JOINT SUPPORT: Rep. Andy Mayberry is joined by all of the Saline County legislative delegation in support of "The Crossing at Angel Court," because they understand the value of such an endeavor. All six legislators in Saline County, Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson, Sen. Alan Clark, Rep. Kim Hammer, Rep. Ann Clemmer, and Rep. Andy Davis have all written letters of support for General Improvement Funds totaling $124,700.