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The finishing touches on the new bay built at Arkadelphia’s fire station #2 are near completion, but there’s one catch – the truck for which the bay was built won’t fit.

Arkadelphia City Manager Jimmy Bolt delivered the news about the station to the Arkadelphia City Board during its meeting on Thursday. He said that he first became aware of the problem a few weeks ago when he was approached by a group of Arkadelphia firefighters.

The firefighters feared that they would be unable to get the truck into the new bay due to the grade of the ramp that goes from the street to the bay.
Bolt told the directors that he contacted the city’s architect, Twin Rivers Architects, about the problem and instructed them to check on and correct it before finishing the project. He said no one from the architecture firm checked on the problem and construction continued.

Firefighters recently attempted to drive the truck into the bay and were unsuccessful.

Bolt said he has been back in contact with the architects, and he is adamant that they will cover the cost in correcting the mistake. The repairs should not be an added expense to the city, he said. “That contract was for that truck to fit in that bay.”
In other business, the board agreed to begin the process of condemnation and removal of 10 dilapidated structures in the city. Mayor Chuck Hollingshead told the directors that Paul Shuffield and Phil Baldwin with Southern Bankcorp met with city staff members and offered to fund the removal of the run-down buildings up to $50,000.

An ordinance already on the books in Arkadelphia allows the project to move forward if Southern Bankcorp’s board of directors approves the funding in an upcoming meeting. The ordinance allows for the condemnation and removal of houses, buildings and other structures that constitute a nuisance within the city limits, according to a memo sent to the directors from building department Supervisor Anita Wiley.

The ordinance also provides for a lien and a penalty on the property that will help recoup the money spent to clean it up.
Building Inspector Don Clark presented the directors with the list of 10 houses that the department would like to begin with. He said the 10 came from a list that totals 32 dilapidated houses. Most of the structures on the first list are on the city’s main thoroughfares including Pine and Caddo streets. All but one of the properties are owned by persons who live outside Arkadelphia. “We did our very best to pick out the worst of the worst,” he said.

A letter has been sent to all of the property owners. Bolt said the city is using the property owners’ addresses as on file in the Clark County Courthouse. He said a few of his letters have gained some response from property owners. “Two of them had their lawyer call me.”

Clark said that several of those who received letters claimed intentions of returning to renovate the structures and others claim the property is not in a dilapidated state. “I’m not sure they’ve been down here to see what’s going on.”
Director Anthony Owen said that several of the first 10 houses that have been selected for possible demolition are in an approximate five block area. “I’ve very concerned that we’re going to be accused of targeting certain neighborhoods,” he said.

Bolt said he is of the opinion that no matter where the city starts the cleanup, “there’s going to be some unhappy people.”

Director Ann Kelly said that all citizens will have to understand that this will be an ongoing process that will eventually cover all areas of town.
The properties approved for the first phase of this project are 1733 Caddo, 1801 Caddo, 1834 Mill Creek Drive, 1705 Pine, 1709 Pine, 1904 Pine, 2001 Pine, 323 N. 10th, 127 N. 17th and 124 N. 18th.

Also during the meeting, the board approved a resolution that will help improvement projects to the intersection of 6th and Caddo streets get placed on the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department’s four-year state transportation improvement plan.

The resolution states that the city will incur the expense of obtaining rights-of-way and moving utilities so that work on the intersection can begin. Bolt said it is unlikelythat work will begin on the project before 2008 or 2009.
He said that the improvements on the intersection will only be a temporary solution. When asked by a director what was needed to fix the problem long term, Bolt said it would take a “true bypass.”

The intersection improvements will allow trucks to turn at the intersection more easily and stay in their respective lanes when doing so.

During the city manager’s report, Bolt said that the city had recently restored full water service to the Unity community. He said anyone in the area who still has problems with the water should contact Town Hall.