Federal Land Lawsuit in Hot Springs

A battle in Hot Springs pits a federal government agency against an aspiring artist.

This dispute is being heard in a federal courtroom and involves property lines, an eclectic building and decades worth of deeds, titles and surveys.

It also has a David vs. Goliath feel to it.

The old stone home on the north side of Hot Springs National Park has been there for decades.

Dubbed "Rocky Roost," it would fit in just as well in Eureka Springs as it would in Hot Springs with all of its gardens and eccentric art and sculptures.

The property borders federal landHot Springs National Park.

In fact a newer, A-frame structure that owners Jim and Julie Williams call "The Opera House" may cross that border onto federal landso the Park Service is suing.

"This was a two story rock home, right here," reflects Fred Loyd while standing on the land that once was home to his home. "Right here."

Fred Loyd lived just down the road until he sold his land to the park service 25 years ago.

Loyd knows the history of this property as well as anyonewhich is why he was called as the first witness to begin the trial on Tuesday.

"I think the government has a responsibilitywhen they actually do own the propertyto protect every inch of it or a lot of people would take advantage of the government and the Park Service," says Loyd.

The city of Hot Springs issued a building permit for the structureand if some of it does rest on federal land it isn't muchmaybe six to eight feet.

Certainly within the realm of an honest mistake.

"I think it is insanity," says Lori Snyder, a close friend of the Williams. "I think that they've owned it. They've maintained it. They've made it better. And that it should stay right where it is."

Federal Judge Robert Dawson called this case contentious.

He expressed concern that neither side may have clear title to the property in question.

Air date: October 30th, 2012