Gen­try coun­cil sees plans for city’s parks

Westside Eagle-Observer - - NEWS - RANDY MOLL rmoll@nwadg.com

GEN­TRY — Coun­cil mem­bers on April 2 saw draw­ings for a parks mas­ter plan which in­cludes new lo­ca­tions for many ameni­ties and the ad­di­tion of soc­cer fields, a splash pad, ten­nis courts and tu­jlub (a tra­di­tional Hmong top-spin­ning game) within city parks.

The draw­ings were pre­pared by Rick McGraw of McClel­land Con­sult­ing En­gi­neers, a firm con­tracted by the city to help it de­velop a mas­ter plan for its park­lands which can be used in adding ameni­ties as fund­ing be­comes avail­able. In­cluded in the draw­ings was pro­posed use of city-owned land and new lands pur­chased ad­ja­cent to the Kansas City South­ern Rail­road.

The draw­ings pro­pose the best use of the park­lands along the rail­road track for soc­cer fields, base­ball and soft­ball di­a­monds and di­a­monds for T-ball and ma­chine pitch.

Plans sought to unite the park­lands on the south side of Main Street with the ball fields on the north. In ad­di­tion to walk­ing trails and pavil­ions, the Main Street Park would in­clude one ball di­a­mond, ten­nis courts, bas­ket­ball courts, horse­shoes, tuj lub courts, the ex­ist­ing skate-board park and a splash pad, as well as stage and pic­nic ar­eas. Park­ing was added to the park plans at both lo­ca­tions.

The coun­cil voiced ap­proval of the plans, but that does not mean all the ameni­ties will be built in the im­me­di­ate fu­ture. The plans will en­able the city to pro­vide and im­prove ameni­ties as money be­comes avail­able. And, hav­ing the plans pre­pared will en­able the city to be­gin mov­ing for­ward and to ap­ply for grant funds to be­gin build­ing new ameni­ties.

In other ac­tion, the coun­cil ap­proved res­o­lu­tions au­tho­riz­ing the mayor to ap­ply for and en­ter into agree­ments re­lated to ap­ply­ing for two grants for fed­eral funds. One is to build a walk­ing bridge over the spill­way at Flint Creek Na­ture Park. The pro­posed bridge would be a steel arch, ap­prox­i­mately 80 feet in length with ei­ther a con­crete or wooden 10-foot-wide walk­way. The es­ti­mated cost for the bridge is be­tween $65,000 and $82,000, de­pend­ing on whether the walk­ing sur­face is con­structed of wood or con­crete. The grant is an 80/20 grant, with the city re­quired to pay 20 per­cent of the grant amount in funds, ma­te­ri­als or in-kind la­bor. The grant does not in­clude pro­fes­sional fees for the project.

The sec­ond fed­er­ally-funded grant is to build a con­nect­ing side­walk along South Smith Street be­tween Sec­ond and Third Streets. The walk­way would con­nect walk­ing trails on South Third to the east side of the park and also to side­walks to the in­ter­me­di­ate school. This grant is also an 80/20 grant, with the city re­quired to match 20 per­cent of the awarded funds.

Or­di­nances were passed on three read­ings with a sin­gle vote to ac­cept tract splits for lands owned by Johnny and Bar­bara Crowder and for lands owned by Steve Young. The tract split for Young, ac­com­mo­dated for the rail­road track pass­ing through his prop­erty, and the tract split for the Crow­ders was re­lated to land given to the city for Crowder Av­enue.

The ex­pen­di­ture of up to $10,000 was ap­proved for the cleanup of prop­erty at 320 N. Giles which the coun­cil had de­ter­mined was in vi­o­la­tion of city safety codes. The ac­tion makes it pos­si­ble for the city to move for­ward in de­ter­min­ing how best to make the prop­erty safe — whether by board­ing up, re­pair or by de­mo­li­tion. Fol­low­ing ac­tion to mit­i­gate the code vi­o­la­tions, the city can place a lien against the prop­erty to re­cover all or some of the costs (a pub­lic hear­ing would be re­quired and a de­ter­mi­na­tion made on the amount of the lien — up to $5,000 to board up and se­cure a prop­erty and up to $7,500 for de­mo­li­tion).

The coun­cil also ap­proved a letter of com­mit­ment for the city to be a part of Arkansas Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Com­mis­sion’s Com­pet­i­tive Com­mu­ni­ties Ini­tia­tive, a pro­gram to help cities and com­mu­ni­ties be pre­pared and more at­trac­tive to po­ten­tial busi­nesses, in­vestors and de­vel­op­ers look­ing for a lo­ca­tion with nec­es­sary re­sources and skilled la­bor. Par­tic­i­pa­tion was viewed as a pos­i­tive step to help the city be­come more com­pet­i­tive in bring­ing more jobs and in­dus­try to the com­mu­nity.

The coun­cil ap­proved records de­struc­tion af­fi­davits for the po­lice de­part­ment and for the city to have doc­u­ments and records, no longer needed and which meet le­gal re­quire­ments for de­struc­tion, shred­ded at an up­com­ing shred event in Gen­try.

Kevin John­ston, Gen­try’s mayor, an­nounced com­mit­tee ap­point­ments for the current year: Per­son­nel Com­mit­tee — Ja­son Bar­rett, Jan­ice Arnold and Dan Erskin; Street and Al­ley — War­ren Nor­man, Michael Craw­ford and James Thor­burn; Wa­ter and Wastew­a­ter — James Fur­ga­son, Craw­ford and Erskin; Parks and Ceme­tery — Craw­ford, Arnold and Todd Wag­ner; Fi­nance — Arnold, Fur­ga­son and Bar­rett; Fire — Thor­burn, Bar­rett and Nor­man; Po­lice — Erskin, Fur­ga­son and Wag­ner; Safety — Fire Chief Vester Cripps, Po­lice Chief Keith Smith, Lay­mon Dono­hew, Mark Smith­son; Li­brary and Se­nior Cen­ter — Wag­ner, Nor­man and Thor­burn; Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment — Janie Parks, Arnold, Fur­ga­son, Bar­rett and Tonya Car­ney.

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