The Conway City Council voted to set aside up to $50,000 in matching funds for a $180,000 Metroplan grant "that is allowing us to go into planning on the Markham Street corridor … to hopefully urbanize and redevelop that corridor" between downtown and the Village at Hendrix development, according to Mayor Tab Townsell.
The Money will come from the city’s general fund.
The look of Markham Street is "to be determined," city Planning Director Bryan Patrick said, but the effect will be an extension of downtown architecture and streetscaping toward the Village.
Back Achers Ranch, a covered horse-riding arena at 3725 College Ave., has been subject to a six-month review of the city conditional use permit that allows it to operate.
There was discussion about the landscaping requirements imposed by the city on the business. Design standards require trees to be planted every thirty feet along a street frontage, and this requirement has not yet been met. Alderman Theodore Jones Jr. said that the city had gone down the road of "letting some stuff get by at first" before, and wanted to hold the ranch to the design standards. The council voted to give the ranch two weeks to work with the city planning department on a plan to meet the landscaping requirements.
The council also approved paying two relocation expenses for households that will be displaced by the first phase of the Western Loop project in the Sturgis Road area.
Valvia Smith will be paid $1,950 in moving costs and Charles and Frankie Collins will be paid $24,782 representing the difference in value between their old home and their new one.
The city will also spend $257,800 in Conway Sanitation Department enterprise fund money on the Conway Sanitation Department’s first compressed natural gas (CNG) curbside collection truck.
Low bidder Dayco Construction Co. will build new "comfort stations," or restrooms, at Laurel Park, Gatlin Park and Beaverfork Park for $473,400.
The council also voted to approve the reclassification of a part-time refuse collector position to a full-time position, and to go ahead with a regular state-required city audit of city accounts and approve the month’s financial report. Alderman Mark Ledbetter voted against spending $85,000 in general fund revenue when a state-provided Legislative audit is free. However, the state audit is generally several months to a year slower than a private audit. "It’s a stronger audit on a financial side of things," Townsell said. "Outside agencies looking at the city’s credit rating, for example, are more impressed by a private audit and for [issuing] bonds using the city credit rating a private audit is almost a necessity."
Overall financially, Townsell said that sales tax was "flat," or about the same as last year, but "we’re maintaining our expenses accordingly." However, "October has been a very good month to be the City of Conway" with announcements including the Central Landing development, new Cantrell Field airport, and various street projects.
The council also voted to continue the levy of property taxes as they have been set for more than 25 years.
A potential easement agreement between the city and Enable Gas Transmission Co. for gas transmission lines and water storage to serve the new wastewater treatment plant in the Lollie Bottoms area was withdrawn from the agenda, and should be brought up at the next meeting according to city Chief of Staff Jack Bell.