April 16, 2014 Edition

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Council closes streets
at Stewart Park

Gloria Wilkerson
Staff Writer

For safety reasons, the Walnut Ridge City Council voted to close one street and a portion of another at Stewart Park at their regular meeting on April 8. The safety of children and those attending ball games at Stewart Park has long been a concern for present and past Walnut Ridge City Councils.

Beginning April 20, gates will be placed to close a section of Park Lane and Second Street until ball seasons are over in an effort to protect children and adults attending the games. Several councilmen and city employees have seen young children dart out in front of traffic before, during and after games, and say the city has been lucky that no one has been injured so far.

At the council's March meeting, Mayor House asked Police Chief Richy Thatcher, Fire Chief Frank Owens and Park Supervisor Rickey Ditto to bring the council a plan that would provide a safer way for traffic to flow in and out of the park during ball season. A plan was needed that would not only provide safety for those attending the games, but also help prevent traffic congestion.

City Attorney Adam Weeks told councilmen that he has had discussions with J.R. Rogers' attorney concerning his dilapidated building on West Elm during the past few days and feels an agreement should be reached in the very near future. A special meeting was set for April 14 to see if Rogers has signed an agreement to demolish or rehabilitate the building or if the city's condemnation process will need to continue. (See related story.)

City Planning Commission Chairman Charles Snapp addressed the council about rezoning a property located at 929-931 Southeast Front Street where Junior McIntire would like to build a mini storage building. The building currently located there was formerly a church and then a theater, and is across the tracks from Hays Supermarket. An ordinance was passed to rezone the property from R1 to C2.

In other business, the council:

  • agreed to purchase a John Deere riding mower from Greenway Equipment in Walnut Ridge for $8,979 and a utility vehicle for $16,425.

  • learned that efforts for the Splash Pad at the city pool will resume this week following several changes in personnel within the Outdoor Grant Program.

  • was informed that the owner of the former Valeron Building at the Walnut Ridge Industrial Park, which was condemned under a previous administration, has agreed to clean up the property, begin repairs and have it up to code within 60 days. Mayor House told the council the city has been contacted by businesses that are interested in buying or renting the building when it is brought up to code.

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