City & County

Sales tax to fund water, sewer extension to Gum Springs

By Joel Phelps | The Arkadelphian

In a special-called meeting Tuesday, the Economic Development Corp. of Clark County elected to pay the City of Arkadelphia $964,215 to extend water and sewer utilities to a site the former hopes will become a certified “super site” for prospective industries, or that it will be additional incentive for an industry that has shown interest in leasing a portion of the land.

In the Sept. 6 virtual teleconference, Crist Engineers fielded questions about the project from Arkadelphia City Manager Gary Brinkley, Clark County Judge Troy Tucker, and JL Griffin, the outgoing CEO of the Arkadelphia Regional Economic Development Alliance.

For the past several months local economic developers have been in talks with executives of “Project Innovex”, and the EDCCC has leased to the unidentified company a portion of the 1,000-acre site west of US Highway 67. The purpose of Tuesday’s meeting was for an understanding between the city and EDCCC for the expansion of utilities. Griffin asked a Crist representative whether the new lines would be able to accommodate a “mill” or other plant. “Absolutely,” Crist representative Matt Dunn replied.

Talks of extending Arkadelphia Water Utilities farther south emerged earlier this year when Griffin proposed he be allowed to research the costs. “Anyone going on this Super Site is gonna have to have water and sewer,” Griffin said in a January meeting. “I think it should have been done a long time ago.”

A map overview of the water and wastewater utilities extension along US Highway 67 in Gum Springs. | City of Arkadelphia image

The addition of utilities is also another step in certifying the 1,100 acres as an economic development “Super Site.” Other factors that play a role in certifying a super site include easy access to a high-volume road or rail. With the Union-Pacific railroad and US Highway 67 nearby, adding utilities should be the final step in this site’s certification process.

Griffin inquired of a timeline for the utilities project from start to finish. Dunn said the utilities should be finished within 120 days, the time spelled out in the contract.

The county judge asked if there would be any easement issues that could delay the project. “Is there anyone’s property other than the Clark County Industrial Council’s or the EDCCC’s that would hold up the project?” Tucker asked. Dunn spent a few moments reviewing property owners in the vicinity and deduced that Larry Manning and Morgan Hill, Inc., both own land contingent with the utilities project. Allen Morgan is president of Morgan Hill, Inc., and a past member of the EDCCC whose term ended at the end of 2021.

Following a motion from Lewis Shepherd and a second from Lori Ross, the measure to fund the utilities extension passed unanimously. The Arkadelphia Board of Directors on Tuesday evening will be presented with the information and will consider whether to uphold the memorandum of understanding.

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