I broke the news earlier this week about a potential clouded title on the spot where the new Two Rivers Bridge for pedestrians and bicyclists lands in the Little Rock portion of Sullivans Island, part of the city-county Two Rivers Park. The span over the Little Maumelle River is soon to open to the public.
I gathered up some of the public record, but couldn’t get a comment from those claiming ownership of the contested land.
Today, in a roundabout fashion, I came into possession of a time line that lays out more information on the property. The key parcel involves 1.77 acres where the bridge lands and hooks up with a park trail. The new bridge ratchets up the value of that land, naturally. The private owner, Moore Broadway LLC, a partnership of local real estate investors, claims roughly an undivided half-interest in the 1.77 acres.
The owners are still not talking to press. But I think I can sum up the crux of their legal argument very simply:
1) When the city condemned property on Sullivans Island in 1976, it failed to serve notice on owners of this particular parcel of land. That means the condemnation was not valid as to them.
2) Government may not “adversely possess” land — even if owners haven’t used it for a period of years. It may only acquire it with just compensation. City Attorney Tom Carpenter, however, contends there are Arkansas cases, including one involving a road built in Rose Bud on a church’s property, where the Supreme Court upheld a government taking of a land where the putative owners had gone years without asserting a claim.
At the moment, no negotiations are underway. The city, for now, is firm in claiming the property. Whether the private owners plan court action soon — perhaps even an action to block the coming bridge opening — remains unknown. UPDATE: I’m assured by a source close to owners that the issue is strictly ownership and there are no plans to attempt to interfere with opening or use of the bridge. For your added information, the time line: