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FCRA proposes land swap deal to Barling Board of Directors

A land swap between the Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority and the Army National Guard has the city of Barling wanting something, too.

At the city's Board of Directors meeting on Tuesday (March 25), FCRA Executive Director Ivy Owen was on hand to make an offer of land to the city to make up for the land within its city limits that the FCRA is giving to the National Guard so the military can construct a new $40 million training center along Arkansas Highway 22, near the guard base's main gate.

According to Owen, the land swap involves about 80 acres that fall within the Barling city limits, taking those acres out of the city's taxable property.

"If we do this exchange and the Guard builds their $40 million training center, it would be in Barling. It wouldn't create a lot of property tax, but it would create a heck of a lot of sales tax," he said, adding that there was some concern among Board members that the FCRA was not treating the city fairly in the land swap.

"It was simply for the region to gain," he explained. "We're here to create jobs and quality of life and that sort of thing. But I think they (the city of Barling) still have a bit of a bad taste in their mouths from years ago when there was a disagreement from Fort Smith and Barling on who was going to get the most Chaffee land (following the closure of the U.S. Army installation). I get the feeling that there is still a bad taste there and I'm just caught in the middle."

Owen said FCRA's gift of 200 acres in exchange for 522 acres from the National Guard allows for nearly three times as much land available for development, though he said the deal could fall through should all parties not find a satisfactory solution.

"I told (the Board of Directors) if it wasn't a good thing for Barling, we wouldn't do the land exchange at all."

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No action has been taken, though Owen said the city has been offered 80 acres by the FCRA that borders the Barling city park.

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