CommunityPoliticsPress Release

Hope City Board pares down Streetscape Project, supports 1/4 cent economic development tax, hears bad news about splash pad grant

Hope City Manager speaks during Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Hope City Board of Directors.

Last night the Hope City Board of Directors at its first regular meeting of October made a choice in the way the Streetscape Project will be done, endorsed the 1/4 cent sales tax to fund economic development incentives and heard the bad news about the request for grant from the state to fund a splash pad at Northside Park.

For more details on the meeting, it is viewable in its entirety below this summary.

City Manager Catherine Cook had told the board she was at work on revising the scale of the project, which would essentially create a walking trail from the Bill Clinton home to Hope’s downtown, replacing conventional street lighting with antique-style lamps, replacing sidewalks with brick paths and creating a railroad pedestrian crossing.

At Tuesday night’s meeting, she presented two alternatives to the original plan. This was necessary because the lowest cost bid from contractors willing to implement the original plan was $1,112,392, while the budgeted amount the city had grant funding for was $694,262.

The board voted for Option 1, which will no longer use brick for sidewalks, but concrete, will reduce the projected sidewalk widths to eight feet, remove trench drains from the project among other cost-cutting measures. In their motion, they did adjust Option 1 to still include the antique-style lighting along Elm Street south of Second Street. The resulting cost would be $946,472. The city would need to find $350,766 over what it had projected plus $34,000 in engineering costs for reworking the project and $83,000 for construction inspection services, bringing the total cost to $1,063,472.

The project is being partially funded by a Transportation Alternatives Program Grant administered by the Arkansas Department of Transportation. It reimburses local governments for projects that could, according to ARDOT’s TAPS site, include “a variety of smaller-scale transportation projects such as pedestrian and bicycle facilities, recreational trails, safe routes to school projects, community improvements such as historic preservation and vegetation management, and environmental mitigation related to stormwater and habitat connectivity.”

Option 2 would have included more cuts to the original project and a requirement to advertise for more bids from contractors for the work.

Richard Corbyn, with the engineering firm Garver was present to answer questions from city directors.

City Director Mark Ross made the motion to approve Option 1 with the retaining of the lighting from the original plan. City Director Steve Montgomery seconded. The motion was approved by unanimous voice vote. Afterward, the board also approved work orders to begin the project.

After the call to order, invocation, pledge of allegiance and approval of minutes, the meeting began with a presentation from the representatives of the Hempstead County Economic Development Corporation. They showed the video that has been shown at a Quorum Court meeting and various town halls in the county that promotes the adoption of the 1/4 cent sales tax, which appears on the November 8 ballot for Hempstead County voters. The video explains that the proceeds of the tax would be devoted to financing incentives for businesses to locate or remain in the county, such as infrastructure building costs.

The city board then voted by unanimous voice vote to pass a resolution, read out loud by City Attorney Randal Wright, endorsing the 1/4 cent sales tax.

During City Manager’s Report, Cook broke the news that the city’s request for grant funding for a splash pad to be located in Northside Park had not been approved. She said the city would reapply next year, learning lessons from the way the committee making the decisions had rated its proposal.

In other business, the directors:

  • Reviewed the sanitation policy, with Catherine Cook and Sanitation Superintendent Nathaniel Holyfield observing that in their near four decades of employment with the city the policy regarding apartment complexes and multi-family units had always been that residents of those places were not to be delivered bags to their doors. The directors took no action on changing the policy.
  • Approved a proposal from Garver Consulting Engineers for preliminary work at the Hope Municipal Airport toward repairing the runway and addressing drainage issues. Negotiation of the costs will occur later.
  • Approved a bid from Custom Pavement Maintenance & Safety of $177,437, which Garver Consulting Engineers recommended be accepted toward the Airport Main Runway remarking project.
  • Heard a report from Fire Chief Todd Martin that as of Jan. 1, 2023, the city would be deemed a class 2 city, moving its rating up from class 3 out of 10, with 10 being the lowest quality rating. Upgrades in record-keeping dispatching helped in improving this rating. This would therefore lower homeowners’ premiums for city residents by three percent. The letter delivering this news to Martin is reproduced below the video of the meeting and our photo gallery.
  • Heard in the Citizens Request portion of the meeting from Patsy White, a Hope resident whose driveway was damaged by street work done by city personnel. She said her driveway had not been repaired adequately yet despite her being assured by board members that it would be. Phillip Shaw spoke of the disappointment of learning the splash pad grant request was not approved. Mayor Don Still said the city would “reach out for more grants” and examine its budget in the future to fund the project. Sylvia Brown said she appreciated that the mayor mentioned the budget since budgets reflect a government’s priorities. She also invited all to come to VOTESoAR’s Turn Up to Turn Out Jamz which will take place in Hope at The Hub Friday October 7th from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m., a voter education and registration event. Two other events will occur in Stamps and Prescott on Saturday. Hazel Simpson requested No Littering signs be placed at a location on East Compress near railroad tracks.
  • Before the meeting ended, City Director Ross asked about what was to be done with the dilapidated buildings on the Hope Municipal Airport’s Property. City GIS and Technology Coordinator Darrell Allen said the city was still awaiting a report from engineer Jeremy Stone.

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