Leader Blues

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

TOP STORY >> Carlisle says its land best for fair

By JOAN McCOY
Leader staff writer

Carlisle, a Lonoke County city 35 miles away from Little Rock with a population of only 2,500, has made a proposal that the state fair board might find hard to resist.

Located just off I-40, Carlisle has more to offer as the site for a new state fairgrounds than easy access, says Mayor Ray Glover.

It has almost 2,000 acres owned by the Rockefeller family that has already been through every environmental test required for industrial construction. It has water and sewer available. It’s flat with no trees and it’s dry enough to raise crops.

The price?

That’s negotiable. The mayor said Monday that he hopes negotiations start as soon as the board has had time to sort through all the proposals and decides that Carlisle’s is one of the best.

“We’re ready to go down here,” Glover said. “If they wanted to start building a new fairground tomorrow, they could. That’s the way we’re way ahead of everyone else.

It’s just flat, clear land. There would be no preparation needed to the site.”

Glover was elected mayor three years ago, when he said he started getting the site ready through a program for economic development sponsored by Entergy.

The land was certified for construction in May, he said. The plan was to attract industry, but then he heard that the state fair needed to move, and he realized Carlisle had to perfect spot for it.

Asked if he thought it was a disadvantage that the land is in Lonoke County instead of Pulaski County, Glover said not at all.

“The State Fair and Livestock Show is 10 days out of the year,” he said. “They’re talking about building a fairground for $100 to $150 million. Don’t you think they’ll have events there every week to pay for it? Carlisle is 35 miles from Little Rock and 90 miles from Memphis. Don’t you think they’d want to draw from both? And here, they could.”