March 23, 2016 Edition

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Property changes main topic
of discussion at WR meeting

Megan Heyl
Staff Writer

The Walnut Ridge City Council discussed several property issues at the meeting Monday night.

Prior to the regular meeting, two public hearings were held regarding the abandonment of a portion of Vine Street and related alleyways and a portion of the right-of-way at West Poplar.

The right-of-way will be cut by 12 feet on the southwest side from West Fifth Street to West Fourth Street. The abandoned right-of-way will be turned back to the property owner, Sonic, which will aid in plans to build a new facility for the fast food chain.

Mayor Charles Snapp said the proposed Sonic build would be twice the size of the current facility. Once complete, the company plans to tear down the old Sonic and replace it with a playground. The council approved the abandonment of the 12 feet of right of way.

The Vine Street and alleyways abandonment at the future county jail site was also discussed. While no opposition was voiced at the public hearing, the council did not take any action during Monday night's meeting as the ordinance was not prepared.

Concerns about condemned property at the corner of Abbey Road and West Elm Street were also discussed. Snapp said the building is collapsing and Alderman Everett Hart confirmed that he believed it would eventually fall in on itself. Safety fence has been put up around the structure.

The biggest set back in demolishing the damaged structure is that there is no firewall in place to protect the adjoining building. Snapp said one would have to be built and would cost approximately $30,000 to build. "I don't know what the answer is," Snapp said.

Additional city improvements were set in motion as the council appropriated $100,000 to the street department for paving projects. Originally, the plan was to wait for a $250,000 grant the city hopes to receive next year.

However, due to the sanitation department set to be self supporting this year, the budget has funds available for paving it hasn't had in previous years. Because of the city's financial status and the low oil prices, the recommendation to bid out some overlays for this year was presented to the council. "The dollar will go further this year than in years to come most likely," Snapp said.

The paving work will focus on roads that wouldn't qualify for grant funds. The council approved the advertising for bids, which are set to be accepted over a 30-day period.

Money was also appropriated to bring the ball fields into Americans with Disabilities Act compliance by increasing handicap accessibility. Bringing the ball fields into compliance will not only be a service to the community, but will also make available additional grant opportunities.

The council approved the appropriation of $10,000 for the project. "This is long overdue for us," Alderman Jeff Taylor said. "I think it's a good thing."

Also at the meeting:

the council approved the appropriation of $10,900 to cover expenses related to payroll taxes for administrative employees. Snapp said these adjustments could be made at the end of the year with the clean-up ordinance but he felt it was better for the council to have an ongoing perspective of where the city is financially.

Fire Chief Franks Owens announced that the new fire truck should arrive the first week of April.

Police Chief Chris Kirksey gave an update on the outstanding warrant program being conducted through district court. He said while not collecting as many as they did the last time this program was available, the venture has still been successful. Those who have questions about the program, or can provide a death certificate for those on the list who have died, may contact the district court clerk on Northwest Third.

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