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Gentry accepts bid for cleanup of nuisance property

by Randy Moll | June 19, 2021 at 1:00 a.m.

GENTRY — The City Council at a rescheduled meeting June 9, approved the cleanup of 119 N. Nelson Ave.

Mayor Kevin Johnston provided council members with a list of quotes he had received for the project.

After consideration, the bid of Greg Alsip was accepted and $8,900 was appropriated from the city’s general fund to cover the cost of the work. Once the work is completed a lien will be placed against the property to recover the cost of the demolition and cleanup.

The council approved adding a backstop netting and shade structure at the sports complex that is under construction along Browning Road on the north side of the city. The first phase of construction at the complex is estimated to be finished in mid to late fall.

After reviewing options, the council approved placing a color city logo on the new water tower on the west side of the tank, facing Arkansas 59. Larry Gregory with Garver Engineering announced that tank pieces should be arriving within the next few weeks and placing those pieces together will begin.

An update was given to the council members on construction work at the new splash pad being built in the city park. Chris Bakunas with McClelland Consulting Engineers said the project had been delayed due to the recent rain but progress has picked up within the last week and hopes are that it will be complete or near completion by July 3, the date of the Freedom Festival.

A discussion was held regarding continuing to allow online attendance at council meetings now that the state of emergency has ended. City attorney Joel Kurtz suggested, to remain in compliance with the Freedom of Information Act and state law, the council could pass an ordinance allowing online attendance but that the mayor and 60% of the council (or five members) would need to be physically present, with up to three members attending online. In order to allow more online attendance on the part of the council, an emergency would have to be declared. Kurtz said he would prepare an ordinance for review at the next council meeting, to be held July 12.

Johnston presented an old ordinance as an example for council members to review and consider for possible discussion in regard to allowing RV parks and campgrounds to be located in the city. Johnston suggested a committee be formed to study that matter and report back to the council before sending a recommendation to the city’s planning and zoning commission. The special committee will include Jimmy Thorburn, Cindy Philpott, Janie Parks and Jason Williams.

Johnston also presented a list of items that were sold by online auction and provided photos of items not yet listed. He asked the council for suggestions regarding disposal of the old Bingo board and tin ceiling tiles which had been removed from a previous business and could have greater value. After discussion, it was decided that Johnston and Chamber of Commerce director Janie Parks would research the items and their values and report their findings to the council at a later date.

Johnston announced the city had been recognized as one of the safest cities in the state and state representative Delia Haak presented the city with a citation and a new Arkansas state flag.

Also approved by the council were:

• A resolution expressing the willingness of the city to utilize funding from a Federal-Aid Surface Transportation Block Grant Program for the year 2022, with funds administered by the Northwest Arkansas Regional Planning Commission;

• A resolution expressing the willingness of the city to utilize funding from a Federal-Aid Transportation Alternatives Program for sidewalk expansion on North Collins Avenue;

• An ordinance to change the zoning from R-0 to C-2 for 2 Patriots LLC at 121 S. Nelson (passed on three readings with a single vote);

• An ordinance assigning certain lands annexed into the city to wards (on three readings with a single vote and with an emergency clause attached).

In addition, Marie Wilbanks with the American Legion post introduced herself and provided information about the post and its contributions and work for the city and local veterans.

Main Street Gentry Chamber of Commerce director Janie Parks reported on the downtown revitalization plan, to be completed in three “stages” or zones. The plan includes a sidewalk extension project; a building renovation project which is now complete; retail coach data analysis; and a Gentry Public Library discussion, “Be Gentry,” set for 5:30 p.m. on June 15, in the Gentry Public Library and open to the general public for input.

Parks reported that the kid’s fishing derby is set for 9 a.m. to noon on June 26 at Flint Creek Nature Park; the Freedom Fest will be held from noon until the completion of the huge fireworks show at dusk on Saturday, July 3; Pickin’ Time on 59 is set for Sept. 23-25; Gentry Cruise Night will begin at 5 p.m. on Sept. 25; the Glow Ride will be held on a date yet to be determined; the Christmas Parade is set for Dec. 11.

The council meeting was originally scheduled for June 7, but, due to a lack of a quorum, was rescheduled to June 9. Council members present on June 9 were Janice Arnold, Michael Crawford, Cindy Philpott, Jimmy Thorburn, Kristi Reams and Jason Williams. Jason Barrett and Dan Erskin were absent.

Randy Moll may be reached by email at [email protected] .

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