A $25,000 grant presented to the City of Gurdon on Friday, March 2, will allow city officials to begin cleaning up abandoned and run-down properties around town.
A check for the grant was presented to Gurdon Mayor Clayton Franklin by Phil Baldwin, president of Southern Bancorp, and Dr. Wesley Kluck, vice president for institutional advancement at Ouachita Baptist University and co-chair of the Clark County Strategic Planning initiative.
Baldwin said the grant from Southern Bancorp is part of the company’s commitment to Clark County and the CCSP.
“One of the things that is really needed is for people to see some real things happening,” Baldwin said of the strategic planning process.
Southern Bancorp gave the City of Arkadelphia a grant to be used for similar purposes last year, and a grant to the City of Amity is forthcoming, Baldwin said.
Kluck said that the tearing down of abandoned properties in Clark County was one of the first things brought up when the strategic planning group first began meeting. He said this gesture by Southern Bancorp is another way to show that the plan is a county-wide plan. not just one to benefit Arkadelphia.
Southern Bancorp is a financial holding company which owns Elk Horn Bank.
Franklin said he is very happy about the gift to the city. He said the city has had a program in place for a couple years in which city workers would demolish a dilapidated house if the owner would give consent and pay $500 for the city’s expenses. He said about 15 houses have been removed using that method.
Franklin plans to continue to use the old plan but new measures will be put into place to “put teeth” into the city’s ability to clean up neighborhoods, he said.
During the March meeting of the Gordon City Council, members are expected to approve an ordinance which would allow for the condemnation of properties which the owners either refuse to clean up or which the owners cannot be located.
Franklin said the $25,000 grant will help the city pay legal fees associated with condemning properties and locating owners. Once the demolition work is completed on a property, a lien will be placed on it through the courthouse so the city can recoup its money.
“This grant allows us to take it a step further than we ever have before,” Franklin said.
City officials do not plan to start on major thoroughfares, Franklin said. “We’re going to start wherever we can free up the property the quickest.”
Franklin released a list of properties compiled by the city for future demolition. These will be the properties targeted with the newly available funds.
A burned out house across from 1121 Cherry Street and another on East South Street are on the list.
Others structures on the list are 301 E. Walnut Street; 204 and 206 Huffman Street; 200 W. Main; a house at the comer of Highway 53 and South Street; 420 South Street; a house at the comer of South and Fifth streets; the second and third houses on the left from Highway 53 on Fifth Street; on Highway 53 across from Beachie’s Music; at the comer of Linden Street and Highway 53; at the comer of Sycamore and Dean streets; 201 Linden Street; 401 and 403 Carrie Street; 315 Plum; 310 and 312 Stovall; at the comer of First and Poplar; 460 South Third; 508 South Second; 206 Jones; 408 South Third; on Highway 53 next to the old shop building; at the comer of Dean and Cedar; 108 Sycamore; at the comer of Joslyn and Fourth; 500, 503, 506 and 507 Miller Street; 605 South Fifth; 313 South Fifth; 402 and 404 Jones; the f1rst house on the right west of Stone Street on Main; lot and Linden; at the corner of Linden and Henry Bell Street; 613 East Cherry; on 10th Street across from AP&L substation; old Sammy Watters house on Front Street; old Dulin house on Highway 182; at the corner of Highway 67 and Airport Road; at the comer of South Front; on East South Street; 607 South Third; 604 East Cherry; a trailer on Cedar Street; 417 and 419 South Street; on Miller Street next to Bethel Church; 405 Jones Street; four trailers on Old Whelen Road; and 207 First Street.