Mayor Mark Stodola last week said that Little Rock should spend $1.6 million to acquire the closed Western Hills golf course as part of a $5.6 million upgrade of the city’s park system.

Money for the parks program would come from unused proceeds and a refinancing of $16.5 million of park bonds issued in 1998 to acquire land and finance infrastructure for the Clinton Presidential Center.

Stodola said refinancing the bonds would allow Little Rock to extend the terms from 2023 to 2035, and could result in a lower rate than the 5.76% the city is currently paying.

Other projects suggested by Stodola include $1.6 million to complete cheetah and penguin exhibits at the city zoo and $1.2 million in improvements to War Memorial Park.

Stodola said the 122-acre golf course, which has been closed for a year, would be acquired as open space. “I’m proposing we buy this for the future,” he said.

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