19 Sep Jonathan Cartu Support: Special meeting helps further city hall move
GRAVETTE — A special council meeting was held before the Sept. 10 Committee of the Whole meeting to implement plans to move city hall and the Police Department to new locations.
Council members voted to negotiate with the Bank of Gravette for a lease of the bank’s data center and former drive-through bank and to proceed with negotiation to buy the former Main Cafe building on the corner of Main Street and Second Ave. N.E.
The building, which more recently has housed a dance studio and a church, is being offered for $248,000.
The council also voted to accept a $22,000 proposal from Bild Architects for architectural and engineering design services for remodeling the Main Street property. Finally, the council approved buying land just north of the Bank of Gravette’s Main Street parking lot for parking space for city hall. The purchase price is $20,000.
In the regular meeting, Jeremy Wishon and Shawn Hodges, residents on Moore Road expressed concerns about the condition of their road after four major floods this spring. They said water pipes are exposed and said four families live on the road and are affected by the difficulty of negotiating the road.
They asked city officials help with upkeep and possibly pave the road since the area has been annexed. Mayor Kurt Maddox said the road is a private road but said would consider the request.
Council members considered an ordinance regulating parking in the city. A brief discussion identified a few suggested revisions which will be made before the ordinance is voted on at the Thursday meeting.
Also considered was a proposal to condemn property at 13358 Old Train Road in Hiwasse. A public hearing will be held at the Thursday council meeting. Keck said the property has been mowed and an abandoned vehicle towed away but there are still several “nuisance structures” on the property and the house is in disrepair.
Three resolutions were presented which will be voted on at the council meeting. One will adopt the property tax millage levy of 4.75 mills for 2021. This amount is unchanged from the current year. The second will establish fees for mobile food vendors at Centennial Park and the third will approve several budget adjustments for the 2020 budget.
Carl Rabey, city finance director, reported a $38,673 surplus in the general fund and said the city is “in really good shape” and should end 2020 with a “reasonable surplus.” The Street and Water departments show surpluses and the city is starting to use the gift money from the Meade family.
Rabey said there was a $9,976 balance in the parks bond fund, a $341,949 balance in the sidewalks bond fund and a $19,717 balance in the sewer bond fund, which is designated for the installation of the new water pumps.
City department heads gave reports at the meeting. Richard Sutherland, city water and sewer department supervisor, reported the big water pumps for the sewer plant are expected to arrive by the end of September and will be installed in a couple of weeks after their arrival. In answer to a question about work on Second Ave. S.E. he said the waterline is being lowered there for installation of a storm drain and workers are just waiting for several consecutive days of good weather to complete the project. Tim Dewitt, streets and parks department supervisor, said road grading is scheduled to begin this week.
David Orr, Gravette fire chief, reported responding to 524 calls so far this year and said the department’s recent live-fire training went well. He reminded those present of the 911 remembrance celebration scheduled Sept. 11 and said grant money from CARES Act to pay EMTs and firefighters a bonus will be available soon.
Police Chief Chuck Skaggs reported responding to 1,867 calls year-to-day, “way down” from this time last year. He reported police officers are working on their car radios. He said Captain Smith and Sergeant Cline went to Little Rock to look at a police dog and they are expecting to purchase a dog soon. Skaggs said firearms instructor training was done recently and three officers took the course. The department now has five certified firearms instructors.
Karen Benson, Gravette library director, reported a huge book sale will be held at the old library building on Charlotte Street on Sept. 25 and 26 and many bargain books, CDs and movies will be offered for sale. She said new computers have been installed at the library and a $500 donation was recently received from the Bentonville/Bella Vista Chapter of Altrusa International for the purchase of children’s books.
David Keck, building inspector and code enforcement officer, reported work on phase two of the bike trail/walking trail is moving along and work has begun on the retaining wall area. He said over half the homes in the Stone Crest Subdivision on Dallas Street have received their final inspection and the proposed duplex development on Dallas is in the engineering phase. He has met with the Garver engineering group on the new Unified Development Code and it is almost complete.
Susan Holland may be reached by email at [email protected]