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Fayetteville council sends bond referendum to voters

by Stacy Ryburn | December 19, 2018 at 1:08 a.m.
File photo/NWA Democrat-Gazette/STACY RYBURN Fayetteville City Hall is seen Sept. 11 at 113 W. Mountain St.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Sometimes heated debates over parking downtown, saving a community park and not including an aquatics center in the list of issues subsided Tuesday with the City Council passing the bond referendum baton to voters.

The City Council voted 7-0 to approve the language residents will see for a special election April 9. Approval of each bond issue would authorize the council to spend up to $226 million toward projects without raising taxes. Mark Kinion was absent.

Other items

Fayetteville’s City Council met Tuesday and approved:

• A $7 million contract with Jacobs, formerly CH2M Hill, to manage the city’s wastewater treatment.

• Rezoning 36 acres southeast of 54th Avenue and Persimmon Street to an agricultural designation for the city’s planned solar array to power the nearby wastewater treatment plant.

• Vacating one tree easement at the Fayetteville Public Library for another, larger one at the southwest corner of the planned expansion.

• A $250,000 contract with the Walton Arts Center for educational, entertainment and administrative services next year. The allocation of parking revenue is set to shift to an arts grant program in 2020.

• A $108,000 contract with 7 Hills Homeless Center to provide services to the homeless and needy.

Source: Staff report

Web watch

For more information on what’s included in the bond package, go to:

Voters in the city last approved a bond package in 2006. The 1-cent sales tax would go toward paying off the new bonds, which city administrators anticipate being able to do in 10 to 12 years.

The list of projects would overhaul intersections, build miles of trail, give police a new headquarters, provide firefighters three substations, help finish parks, fix drainage issues throughout the city and install an arts corridor downtown, among other endeavors.

The council read the language for the second and third times Tuesday before approving. About 20 people spoke during the first reading earlier this month, mostly about parking associated with the proposed cultural arts corridor downtown and exclusion of an aquatics center from the list. The council also held a workshop last week to go over the finer details of the language.

Eight people spoke Tuesday. Four spoke about preserving Lewis Park next to Asbell Elementary. The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture owns the land, and the city has partnered with Fayetteville Public Schools on a joint purchase. The Division of Agriculture agreed to not post the land for sale pending the outcome of the bond referendum, which includes $1.9 million the city could use for its contribution, Chief of Staff Don Marr said.

The council added a resolution solidifying up to $21.7 million to build the cultural arts corridor and up to $10 million for replacement parking downtown. Work on the cultural arts corridor would not begin until replacement parking is set.

Mayor Lioneld Jordan said the arts corridor will serve as a civic space contributing to a sense of place, serving as an economic driver and helping to protect the environment.

"I don't have a crystal ball on how it's all going to work out," he said. "I'm going to keep the train and the Depot. I'm not going to destroy the Nadine Baum Studios down there. But somehow, some way, we're going to get a parking structure or replacement parking from where that train is to Lafayette."

Walton Arts Center President Peter Lane spoke on behalf of the organization and described the proposed cultural arts corridor as a grand picture of what they can do with downtown. He expressed excitement over expanding the programming beyond the Walton Arts Center's walls.

"We place our faith and trust in the mayor in his commitment to replacing the spots on West Avenue with proximate parking," Lane said.

The council also accepted a $19,800 contract with Garver Engineering to put together a site analysis and feasibility study for a new parking deck downtown. Garver will put together possible parking configurations and site details for up to five locations downtown, according to city documents. Including possible spots for liner buildings also will be included in the work.

Parking manager Justin Clay told the council the consultants will look at all options, whether that means putting all 290 replacement spaces in one deck or across multiple locations.

Resident Anita Parisi said although an aquatics center will not be included in the bond list, she hoped city officials would educate themselves on the benefits of such a facility. She requested the city build a structure over the pool at Wilson Park for use in the winter.

Parisi and other residents advocated for inclusion of an aquatics center at several public meetings.

"I know that maybe you're tired of seeing me here, but I can't stop being passionate about saving people's lives, helping people be healthier and doing an activity they can do from the time they're two, three, four months old to the time that they die," she said.

All 10 bond issues will appear as a separate measure on the ballot. The first question to refinance outstanding sales tax bonds of about $12.2 million must pass in order for any of the other items to pass.

After that, the council will have to approve the issuing of each individual bond for any project that voters approve.

Rogers voters passed a $299.5 million bond referendum in August. Springdale extended its 1-cent sales tax in February to pay for about $224.6 million in bond issues.

In other business, the council considered adjusting recycling and trash rates in order to implement the city's adopted recycling master plan. Discussion went past 9:30 p.m.

The council hired MSW Consultants in February to examine the rates. The city last had a comprehensive study to determine rates in 1993. A new recycling master plan that calls for an expansion of services and diverting 40 percent of materials from the landfill by 2027 was adopted last year.

Consultants with MSW recommended a one-time average 9 percent increase to rates for all city recycling and trash services. The study recommends slight increases in the recycling and trash rates for single-family homes, keeping the rate flat for multifamily and a larger increase for commercial services. However, the rates vary depending on size of containers, frequency of pickup and type of service.

Department heads say by adjusting rates, the city could begin making curbside recycling available at apartment complexes of 24 units or fewer and putting in separated recycling receptacles, known as battleships, at larger complexes. Also, ongoing pilot programs for food waste composting and glass recycling for businesses would become standard service.

NW News on 12/19/2018

Print Headline: Council sends bond issues to voters


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