Leader Blues

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

TOP STORY >>Gravel Ridge will offer cities resources, growth

Leader staff writer

Both Jacksonville and Sherwood have set their sights on annexing the rural community of Gravel Ridge, which lies west of Jacksonville and north of Sherwood, although many Gravel Ridge residents have said they’ll try to incorporate themselves to stay out of either city.

What will Jacksonville or Sherwood get if they win the annexation battle?

A well-off, stable, mostly white, well-educated community of families with two parents in the home and a total of about 4,000 new residents and an additional 2,500 acres of land.

According to 2000 U.S. Census figures, the median family income in Gravel Ridge is $44,318, more than half of the families have been in the same home for five or more years, 80 percent of the residents are white, more than half have been to college or have a college degree and more than half of the families have both parents in the home.

Gravel Ridge, according to the census figures, is 80 percent white, 14 percent black and about 3 percent Hispanic.

The median age of Gravel Ridge residents is 32. Most residents are between the age of 25 and 54, and the females slightly outnumber the males, 1,664 to 1,568.

The average family size is 3.06 people, and more than half the families in Gravel Ridge have both parents raising the children. Gravel Ridge’s population includes 427 children in kindergarten though eighth grade, another 232 in high school and 210 in college or graduate school. Overall, 89.9 percent of Gravel Ridge residents have a high school degree or better.

More than half have some college or a college degree.

Only 56 housing units, or 4.2 percent are vacant, meaning that Gravel Ridge homes and apartments have a 95.8 occupancy rate. Nearly two-thirds of the community’s housing units are occupied by the owners, while the other third are rentals.

More than 77 percent of the 1,289 housing units in Gravel Ridge are single-family homes, while 7.3 percent are mobile homes. Most units in the area were built in either the 70s or the 80s. Most homes (83.6 percent) in Gravel Ridge are valued between $50,000 and $99,999 with 45 percent of the mortgages running between $700 and $999 a month. About 60 percent of the rental property runs under $499 a month.

The area set for annexation includes the bulk of Gravel Ridge, going beyond Ison Road on the west, most of Hatcher Road on the north, about a mile east of Gibson Road, and just north of Ascot Drive on the south.

Jacksonville’s election to decide the annexation issue is Feb.5, piggybacking on the state’s presidential primary election. Both Jacksonville and Gravel Ridge residents will have the opportunity to vote in that election.

Sherwood’s election to bring the area into its city is set for Mar. 11. The residents of Sherwood and Gravel Ridge will vote in that election.

According to the Pulaski County Clerk’s Office there are 16,932 registered voters in Jacksonville, 15,164 in Sherwood and 3,721 in the four precincts that cover the Gravel Ridge area.

If both elections approve the annexation, then a third election will be scheduled for just Gravel Ridge voters to decide if they want to become part of Jacksonville or Sherwood.

The other alternative may be for Gravel Ridge residents to incorporate and keep their independence.

One businessman said before Christmas that’s exactly what he and his neighbors will do.