The price is right, said the Vilonia City Council, Tuesday night regarding the purchase of about 10 acres of land located on N. Mount Olive Road where they intend to build additional ball fields, soccer fields, a parking lot, a concession stand and a maintenance shop.
"We are at a good place," said Mayor James Firestone, addressing the council. "Our kids are important and giving them a place to play is very important."
A unanimous vote, the council approved paying $6,000 per acre for the land amounting to $102,000. Also, Firestone said, they explored purchasing another tract of land near the current ball fields at a quote of $300,000. That land, Firestone said, is zoned commercial and near the industrial center.
"The more we looked at this, the more we like it," Firestone added, referring to the land located approved for purchase on N. Mount Olive. The land, he said, is just a short distance off Highway 64 and is at a central point and easily accessible.
Also, he said, the school district is building an intermediate school on S. Mt. Olive and there is a possibility of sharing some of the areas with the school for practice fields.
Prior to action, alderman Skip Cates asked, if the city has the money to pay for the land purchase.
"We can pay cash for it," Firestone offered. "Once we get the property, we can apply for grants to do the rest. "
The money, Firestone said, will come from the sales tax passed a couple of years ago to fund park improvement and street improvements. Three to five acres, he said, will go to the street department project. What the street department uses, Firestone said, will be paid for by the street department funds and the rest will be paid from park funds.
Alderman Sherry Clements expressed concern regarding the narrow roadway. Firestone said they will explore the possibility of widening it at some point.
In other business, the council reviewed and approved the findings of Connor and Sartain accounting firm in Conway who completed a federal audit on the city in compliance with the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management.
"We had a good audit with no deficiencies," Firestone said. He also said the city has recently undergone a state audit with no deficiencies. "I’m proud of our office staff," he added.
• Fire department: Chief Keith Hillman said the fire department has been responding to a large number of grass fires. He also talked about providing aid to the Holland community during a large burn. In total, he said, the department has responded to 328 calls this year up about 80 runs over last year.
• Police department: Chief Brad McNew said the police department was recently audited by ACIC and "everything was good."
He talked briefly about a retirement party that was held recently for Sgt. Denny Mickels. He will continue on the force, McNew said, until October. He anticipates filling the position in December.
• The public is invited to the grand opening and ribbon cutting of the newly built Vilonia Therapy Clinic, located in the downtown area on Highway 64, to be held at 6 p.m. July 24.
• A planning commission meeting is set for 7 p.m., Thursday.
• The burn ban is still in effect under a mayor’s proclamation as well as the county burn ban.
• Alderman Art Pischke announced the Spirit of Vilonia Ministries Inc. Food Bank is operating from 9 a.m. to noon Wednesdays and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturdays at the old city hall.