Nine out of 10 properties selected for demolition or improvement have been razed and the next phase of a city-wide cleanup plan is being implemented, Arkadelphia City Manager Jimmy Bolt said.
Last summer, Arkadelphia city directors approved a list of 10 properties to be improved, either by demolition or repair. The city notified the owners of the properties, giving them a certain amount of time to either make necessary repairs to the structures or have them demolished. If the property owner could not or did not respond, the city hired a demolition crew to do the work. A $50,000 grant from Southern Bancorp of Arkadelphia was used to finance the city’s portion of the project.
After the work was done, a lien was placed on the property requiring the owner to repay the city for the work, so that the project can sustain itself in the future, Bolt said.
Structures were razed at 1733 Caddo, 1801 Caddo, 1834 Mill Creek, 1709 Pine, 1904 Pine, 2001 Pine, 322 N. 10th, 127 N. 17th and 124 N. 18th streets. The owners of a structure at 1705 Pine have received a building permit to do work on that property.
The next phase of work will focus on a specific area of town, not specific addresses, Bolt said.
“We are developing a list of properties from the (Ouachita) river bridge to the intersection of 10th and Caddo streets,” Bolt said.
Properties to be improved in that area include the old police department building next to the fire department at 610 Caddo St. The structure, which was originally built as a private hospital, was abandoned when the city purchased and renovated a building at 514 Clay St.
Another building included in the second phase is the old church at the corner of Caddo and Seventh streets. Dedicated in 1884 as the First Baptist Church, the structure later housed the First Christian Church and a dry cleaners before being abandoned. Since then, the building’s roof has caved in and is in very bad shape, Bolt said.
“It still has historical value,” he said, but said that he has no idea how much work would be needed to restore the structure.
The idea of the project came through a survey done by the Clark County Strategic Development Committee, said Phil Baldwin, president of Southern Bancorp.
“The key idea was to clean up the town,” Baldwin said. When the first $50,000 grant has been spent, the city can apply for more funds, he said.
The first phase of the cleanup project was “very successful,” Bolt said. “We want to build on that success and continue it.”