By Joe May
The Southern Standard
An offhand comment by a director became the main item of discussion at Tuesday evening’s meeting of the Arkadelphia Board of Directors.
Ward 4 Director Reo Cummings noted that some Pine Street merchants have been failing to keep their properties cleaned in accordance with local codes. Ward 3 Director Keith Crews agreed, stating that one business in particular “looks like a junkyard” because it had scrap in front and to the rear of the building.
City Manager Gary Brinkley noted that Code Enforcement Officer Thomas Free writes an average of 75 citations per month for code infractions. In response to a question by Vice-Mayor Roland Gosey in regards to what can be done to assist Free in his task, the city manager said that Free will be retiring as of August 1.
“The problem is not unique to Arkadelphia,” he continued. “The problem is all over and there’s a lot of question involved about personal rights.”
Gosey agreed, but stated that while the city cannot make them take pride in their property, violators can be made to obey the rules.
Crews said it is unfair to homeowners in other parts of town to be forced to comply with regulations when merchants on a main corridor aren’t always obeying the rules. “I just don’t understand how you can operate a business that looks like a junk yard,” he commented.
Brinkley agreed, and noted that homeowners with $300,000 homes no longer have that value in their property when their neighbors do not keep their residences up to code. “Junk devaluates other people’s property,” he said. “We are honor-bound to help our citizens protect the value of their homes because that’s the most expensive thing they own.”
Directors then decided to look at ways that the city can update various codes to aid the next officer in enforcing code violations.
• Passed at the motion of Ward 5 Director Jason Jones a resolution allowing Brinkley to apply for a $550,000 FAA grant to construct a 3-bay hanger at the airport for $707,786. Brinkley said the airport will recoup its portion of the money in about 8-9 years through fuel sales and hanger rentals.
• Heard an update from Brinkley about 19 city projects:
-Sidewalk construction on Twin Rivers Drive.
-Feaster Trail 10-12th Street.
-Sidewalks around area schools
-Feaster Park restroom/concession design
-Kayak ramp concept plan
-Hills Court project
-N. 18th Street drainage project
-Henderson Street improvements
-Haddock Street storm drains
-Caddo and 27th Street drainage
-Walnut Street bridge rebuild
-M.H. Russell bridge project
-Emergency communications tower
-Gum Springs water project
-ARDOT’s Pine Street widening project
-ARDOT Bypass project
-Water and Sewer design improvements
-EDCCC Water and Sewer extensions