The state land commissioner’s office announced today that the office had given an easement to the city of Little Rock for use of a seven-acre island in the Arkansas River just below the former railroad bridge that now forms a pedestrian/bike link to North Little Rock.
The city plans to construct a bridge between the island the the south bank of the river near the Clinton Presidential Center.
State Land Commissioner John Thurston said this will allow people to experience the river “up close.” In a prepared release, he said he was an avid fisherman and pleased the island could provide fishing opportunities.
The acreage is measured at normal river elevation. It could be prone to flooding.
Mayor Mark Stodola said the city would build trails and install benches after the bridge is built.
The state land commissioner has responsibility for lands under navigable state waterways.
Mark Webre, deputy director of the Parks and Recreation Department, is bubbling about the new plan and says it will create some 55 acres of diverse parkland, linked by trails along the Arkansas River. This includes the Riverfront Park, with play spaces and sculpture gardens; the Witt Stephens Nature Center; the Bill Clark Wetlands; the Clinton Presidential Center Park and then this island, which could have an even wilder feel than some of the other areas.
The project is now in hands of Public Works. Webre said he recalled that the bridge would cost about $800,000, with the Sturgis Foundation to provide about $500,000. He said he hoped the bridge could be done by the end of the year or early next year. Then the city will put in trails and benches. The bridge will descend from a higher elevation, but the hope is to make the incline not so steep that it doesn’t comply with accessibility guidelines of the Americans with Disabilities Act.