LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) â€” A judge ruled that the city properly laid claim to a three-acre tract that it wants for the Bill Clinton presidential library.
A lawsuit filed by a man whose property sits near the center of 28 acres the city sought to donate for the library contended the city improperly claimed eminent domain.
Skip Rutherford, a Clinton friend and the coordinator of the privately funded $25 million library project, said Monday's ruling ``means we can move forward.''
Property owner Eugene Pfeifer contended the city could not claim eminent domain because the acreage didn't meet the state's definition of a park. He said the city improperly declared the project a park, instead of a library and museum, to avoid having to present the question to voters.
City Attorney Tom Carpenter argued that the Clinton center fit the definition of a park, and the city's only obligation to Pfeifer was to give him a fair price. The city has offered Pfeifer $400,000.
Judge Chancellor Vann Smith concluded Monday that the purpose of the taking of the land is ``an urban park in downtown Little Rock that will include the William J. Clinton Presidential Library Complex.''
``The court finds that an acceptable use of the park can include structures such as a library, educational facilities, archives and other similar structures,'' Smith said.
Neither Pfeifer nor Parker immediately returned telephone calls.
Library organizers hope to complete the library and museum complex by 2003. The campus is planned for the south bank of the Arkansas River in Little Rock's spruced-up warehouse district. The library is also to have an apartment for Clinton.
Once complete, the library will be run by the National Archives.
One other court action is pending. The suit by Nora Harris contended the city should have held a public vote on whether to issue bonds to buy the land. Her suit was dismissed but she is appealing the dismissal.