The Arkansas Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a lower court ruling in favor of Washington Regional Medical Center as the rightful owner of the former Fayetteville City Hospital land, clearing the way for a planned expansion of the Fayetteville Public Library.
The four-acre property was long ago donated to the city by the Stone family with the stipulation that it be used by a hospital. After the City Hospital closed, Washington Regional acquired the property in exchange for land the city needed to construct a roundabout near Millsap Road. Washington Regional eventually closed the nursing home it operated inside the building and announced the sale of the land to the library. Heirs of the Stone family have fought the sale, but lower courts have ruled in the library’s favor.
The site, located just south of the current Fayetteville Public Library, is a proposed location for a $49 million expansion that would double the size of the library.
Fayetteville voters on Aug. 9 approved a measure to temporarily increase the library’s 1-mill property tax to 3.7 mills, which will generate about $26.5 million to put toward the total expansion cost.
“We are pleased that the proper legal processes have played out and that the Supreme Court has made this decision,” said David Johnson, the library’s executive director. “Fayetteville voters graciously approved expansion for the library last August. Today, we are a step closer to making that expansion a reality.”
Johnson said the sale of the property, which is still under contract, is expected to close “in the near future.”