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WOOD RIVER - A proposed subdivision of a portion of Belk Park for potential future sale or private development was unanimously voted down by the Wood River City Council at their meeting earlier this week.

The city’s Planning Commission forwarded a negative recommendation to the council after two public hearings in which several members of the public spoke out against the proposed subdivision. At the time of the first public hearing, a wedding venue developer had plans to build a wedding venue on the site, but they have since canceled those plans.

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Several cited the land being designated a public park in the will of the late Robert Belk when he donated the land to the city. Belk died in 1951 and a city ordinance officially establishing the land as a public park was signed in 1954.

The Planning Commission originally tabled the item after the first public hearing on July 20 to gather and consider more information after 17 city residents and area locals made nearly two hours’ worth of public comments against the land subdivision and potential wedding venue.

Since it had been tabled, the item came back to the commission on Aug. 17 for their final recommendation, which was negative after more public comments were made against the subdivision. Commission Chair Jesse Daniels noted that the City Council could technically still approve the subdivision without the Planning Commission’s approval.

However, City Council members did not hesitate to unanimously vote down the item, with Councilman David Ayres saying his vote was “a definite ‘no.’” Councilman Bill Dettmers was absent from the meeting on Tuesday.

A full recording of the Sept. 5 meeting can be watched at the top of this story or on

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