CommunityPolitics

Hope Board of Directors to hold utility contractors to account for unfinished, untidy work sites

In its second March meeting, held last night, the Hope City Board of Directors requested City Manager Catherine Cook to present them with a tool to solve the problem of contractors leaving work sites in the city either unfinished or in a state of disorder.

The request came during a discussion of the upcoming 2022 series of repairs to city streets, which calls for 19 projects to be completed. Director Trevor Coffee asked Cook about framework that was left near Grady Street, with 2 X 4s “sticking up there at the edge of the road.”

Street Superintendent Kenneth Harvel told the board that the project Coffee referred to had been overseen by “the gas company,” presumably Center Point Energy, which services city customers.

“Do we call and ask them and two years later see it removed?” Coffee asked.

Mayor Don Still suggested that an ordinance was needed.

Cook said at this point the city has no legal tool to compel utility or other contractors to finish their projects or clean up work sites. She said she had made calls and written letters to try to remedy the matter but to no avail.

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She suggested setting up a system of permitting, in which companies would need a permit from the city to start work and that permit would specify that work projects be completed and work sites restored to their prior appearance by a certain time. If the company fails to uphold these conditions, the city would handle the work and then charge the company’s bond for the cost.

“I believe it is time,” Coffee said.  Mayor Still agreed. So Cook said she would bring the matter up at the next meeting.

Among the 19 street repair and resurfacing projects, the most expensive will involve a 25 X 1,313 feet segment of Lester Drive which is projected to cost $49,959. Timbercreek Drive, involving a 25 X 965 feet repair comes in second at $36,783. Other streets to be repaired include West 5th Street, West 13th Street, West 15th Street, West 11th Street, West 17th Street, South Walker, North Sherman, Dairy, North Oak, North Graham, West Avenue D, West Avenue E, North Mockingbird, West Avenue C, North Greening, North High and West Avenue A.

The total cost to the city for the work will be $420,770.

The city board unanimously approved the series of projects in a voice vote.

In other action, the board voted in favor of a resolution to refinance Hope’s debt as it services the 2016 and 2017 Wastewater Bonds, which raised $6.8 million and $4.3 million used for the city’s wastewater treatment and sewer systems, respectively. Cook reported that the refinancing was feasible because of a provision in the IRS code in which the bonds would be “deemed designated.” The refinancing could reduce the burden of the City of Hope Wastewater Department by $1.3 million.

Speaking to the board during this agenda item was Jason Holsclaw, Senior Vice President of Public Finance at Stephens Inc., who said the time to refinance was now, since interest rates would be going up soon. (Indeed the Federal Reserve is expected by most analysts to increase the prime rate by .25 %.)

Having come from the Rose Law Firm in Little Rock, Associate Nicole Gore spoke to the board about the set of requirements the bond issue debt fulfilled in order to earn the “designated” status and therefore the ability to be refinanced. She presented a resolution for the board to vote on, which allowed for the refinancing. This was read aloud by City Attorney Randall Wright.

The board passed the resolution by a unanimous voice vote.

The board also made a decision about ward redistricting, accepting option three from among the four options of redistricting maps prepared by consultant Rob Middleton and presented last night. During discussion, Director Coffee observed that option three “seems more squared off,” meaning the districts on that map lacked the jagged border lines of the other options.

At first, Director Kiffinea Talley asked that the vote be put off for a next meeting so that Director Mark Ross could vote. But Mayor Still suggested Ross’ district was the one least changed from its 2010 borders. At that, Director Steve Montgomery made the motion to accept map option three. After Director Coffee’s second, the motion carried by unanimous voice vote.

The board voted to accept Hope Outdoor’s low bid for the provision of two zero turn mowers with mulching kits for use by the Park Department at a cost of $19,812.

During the city manager’s report, the last item of the meeting, Catherine Cook announced that the city would be hiring three employees this summer to specialize in removing litter from the several trouble spots in the town.

Finally, during Citizen Request time, Merchel Thomas reported that her organization, Visibility Outreach Touch Engage had recently had a cleanup day, inspired by Catherine Cook’s remarks during the March 1st meeting about the need for volunteers to pick up litter. She also promoted her group’s Free Spring Break Fun Day in North Side Park near the North Spruce Street and Clinton Bypass. The event will start at noon, Saturday March 19th.

The board and members of the community view an image comparing one of the options for the new redistricting map to the 2010 map.
A satellite photo of Hope overlaid with descriptions of street work projects that are part of the 2022 plan for the city.
A list of the 19 street projects planned for 2022 for the city with their measurements, use of materials and costs.
The redistricting map option three, accepted by the board last night.

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