Although the July 16 city council meeting lasted only 16 minutes, the council’s adoption of the West Main Street Corridor Plan may have made those minutes significant.
Mayor Bill Cypert and aldermen Ed Long, Ann Gilliam, Rick Prentice, Angie Hoschouer, Ryan Flynn, Ken Davis, Jon Moore and Patrick Hutton attended the meeting.
The council voted to adopt the proposed Highway 89/West Main Street Corridor Plan. The corridor plan sets out recommendations for further development of West Main Street from Second Street to Arkansas Highway 5.
In committee discussions, it was pointed out that, as a resolution, the Corridor Plan sets city policy for development of the area but does not carry the authority of an ordinance.
The plan treats the corridor in three sections: South Second Street to U.S. Highway 67/167, from U.S. Highway 67/167 to Douglas Road, and Douglas Road to Arkansas Highway 5. It also covers feeder streets such as Dakota and Douglas roads.
According to a 2007 City-wide Traffic Study conducted by Metroplan, the section of West Main Street east of U.S. Highway 67/167 is one of the more dangerous roads in the city.
About 8,900 vehicles per day travel west of Douglas Road and 22,000 vehicles per day east of Douglas Road. Projections are that within 20 years those figures will increase to 13,000 and 35,000, the study states.
The plan notes that the area between U.S. Highway 67/167 and Douglas Road "is almost entirely built out," with the section west of Douglas Road the least open for guided development.
Limited alternatives for through-traffic to bypass the commercial area will add to the congestion, the plan states.
Recommendations include extending Dakota Road to Richie Road and an additional east-west connection between Arena Road and Rockwood Road.
However, city engineer Jim VonTungeln emphasized at the July 9 public works meeting that redevelopment likely will give city planners opportunities to correct many of the problems. Redevelopment has become increasingly frequent as cities find alternatives to the expense of expanding services to new areas, he said.
Some areas open to redevelopment are the intersection of Rockwood Drive and West Main, Arena Road and the former Wal-Mart store.
The plan also calls for added provisions for pedestrians. The current lack of sidewalks makes the section "dangerous and uninviting for pedestrians," it states.
During the July 9 public works committee meeting, Cypert said the streetscape project now under way would answer some of the pedestrian problems on the first section of West Main Street. Streetscaping will add sidewalks from Fourth to Tenth streets and should be completed by the end of the year, he said.
The plan also sets out environmental concerns such as drainage and protection of hillsides and discourages "strip" type development.
In other matters, the new city employee handbook was read for the third time. Routine procedure calls for three readings of a proposed ordinance before being put into effect.
Ron Akers, a Southcrest Drive resident, voiced the only opposition to the handbook, singling out the provision for the city to pay for employee continuing education.
There are other means for employees to continue their education without the city furnishing it, Akers said.
"This is something that taxpayers will eventually have to pay for," he said.
Although there may currently be sufficient funds to pay for the courses, the state of the economy calls for caution before taking on avoidable expenses, Akers said.
"I have had to pay with money out of my pocket to better myself. I think if somebody is truly serious about [continuing education], they can do the same thing," he said.
Without further discussion, the council voted in favor of the ordinance.
The council approved amending the city budget to cover the costs of citation and warrant management software for the police department, a new portable sound system and the purchase of land in the Southfork shopping center. Less funds already designated for the software and sound system, the total was $17,809.
The land purchase includes a flooded quarry and a tract of land.
At the July 9 committee meeting, Cypert said purchase of the land would be a wise move for the city.
The site is already used by the fire department for training. The parcel of land could be the site of fire station or additional city park.
Two ordinances repealing standards for yard maintenance were read for the first and second times. City attorney Jimmy Taylor explained the repeals were called for because the requirements are set out in another ordinance.
The council also approved the re-appointment of Judd Nelson to the Advertising and Promotion Commission. The appointment will expire in July 2016.