Eureka getting new $125K public works building

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

EUREKA SPRINGS -- The City Council has passed an ordinance and a resolution that will contribute to the construction of a new building for the Public Works Department.

At the council's May 12 meeting, Ordinance 2211 was read three times through an emergency clause with a suspension of the rules. The ordinance allows the construction for a new public works building to begin soon. The contract for the building was awarded to Floyd Sales and Construction of Berryville after the council waived the bidding process as well.

"If you go to the place where these guys work, you would see it is falling down around their ears," said Mayor Morris Pate about the conditions of the current home for public works. "There is exposed fiberglass insulation falling down around the guys while they are working. Some of the support posts are falling down, and there are problems with rust and leaks. The building is beyond repairs. "

The contract with the Berryville construction company was for $125,000, and the construction should begin in a couple of weeks, Pate said. He added that the building they are replacing has been used since 1979, and that this process is long overdue. The project's funds will come from the city street funds and the general operating funds in a 70-to-30 ratio, respectively.

"It is dangerous to the crew and dangerous to equipment," Pate continued. "A lot of people squawk about waiving the bid process, but it is a matter of public safety."

The plan is to deconstruct the current wood building and turn it into a roofed storage area for equipment after replacing nearly everything but the rafters and a portion of the roof. The new building will be composed of metal, and while it is being constructed, the contents will be held in storage containers. The council has authorized the purchase of the containers through the aforementioned resolution that was passed at the meeting.

The council also approved Resolution 637, which authorizes the state to repave portions of Pivot Rock Road and Passion Play Road. The state will cover construction and engineering costs, but the city is responsible for paying for any change in utilities or right-of-ways that may occur in the process, according to the resolution. The city can receive up to $250,000 for the repaving, and any funds that are left over from the two roads are intended to be used for another repaving project, Pate said at the meeting.

The first thing on the council's agenda for unfinished business was the ordinance for the film industry tax incentive. The ordinance was numbered 2208 and its first and second readings were approved at the meeting.

The ordinance allows the council to approve giving rebates on city sales and usage tax to production companies that's project budget is for $250,000 or more. The production company must apply before the project is started to receive their 2 percent tax rebate after the project is completed, said Sandy Martin, chairperson for the city art council.

The council later approved Ordinance 2201, the Clean City Ordinance, on its third and final reading. The council amended the ordinance to add that property owners can negotiate with the city building inspector to work out a time table to resolve any ordinance violations, in case they cannot do it immediately.

The council also amended the fine process to say that any violation can be fined up to $100 for the first offense and $100 for every day after the initial violation, until it is rectified. The last amendment was to change the restriction on growing medicinal plants to allow property owners to grow them anywhere on their lawn and not in a garden or flower bed, as long as they are kept below the eight-inch maximum height.

The Clean City Ordinance was passed with some contention as many residents have previously spoken out against it during public comments, and even Alderwoman Joyce Zeller voiced her opinion that the ordinance was too strict and intrusive.

Another ordinance that has drawn some flak from public speakers that was approved by the council was the noise ordinance. This ordinance was numbered 2209 and approved on its first reading at the meeting.

It amends the existing city noise ordinance to allow the municipal police to have a stricter code to fall back on and to keep the fines from going out of the city, said Alderman David Mitchell.

The previous noise laws are from the state, so fine money for violations went to the state's funds, but this ordinance should keep the money collected in the city now, Mitchell said. He also stated that just because the code is now more strict, it doesn't mean the enforcement will be.

The ordinance states that it shall be unlawful to make, cause or continue any loud, unnecessary, unnatural or unusual noise or any noise that annoys, disturbs, injures or endangers the comfort, repose, health, peace and safety of reasonable person at any time, day or night.

It also states that it is unlawful to potentially create noise that is of a volume, frequency or pattern that prevents, disrupts, injures or endangers the health, safety welfare, prosperity, comfort or repose of any reasonable person after being requested to stop by a law enforcement officer. The ordinance restricts the noise caused by motor vehicles that have modified exhaust and people revving engines, playing music too loud, using horns and loud machinery.

The council also approved the third and final reading of Ordinance 2207, which reclaims a portion of Rock Street from the parks department. The council will soon place on the agenda an ordinance to vacate property form city jurisdiction. After that is read three times, there will be a 30 day waiting period before the land is vacated. The request to vacate comes from the property owners of 1 Magnetic Dr., Rachel and Ryan Brix.

The Brixes have attended several meetings and provided research and maps that suggest the city does not own the property, or street, that runs through their land, but at a previous meeting they were petitioning the council to vacate the property.

The lack of action on this issue has prevented the Brix family from developing their property, threatened to negatively impact the marketability of their property and could also "obscenely" affect their right to safely access, use and reasonably enjoy their property, Rachel said at a previous meeting.

The request has been debated by council during many meetings and the Parks and Recreation Commission and the Trails Committee are still apprehensive to give up the land. The land was called a crucial point in the "spine" of a larger trail system that has been planned, but not developed, said Sheryl Willis of the Trails Committee.

The legal counsel for the owners of Marble Flats, property adjacent to the proposed vacation, offered a compromise with parks to move the proposed trail if the Brixes would withdraw their petition to vacate. The Brixes did not give any notion to withdraw their petition at the meeting.

Towards the end of the meeting, the council passed Resolution 638, to construct a stage at the North Main Music Park. The stage can be used for theater and music performances, and the estimated cost is $5,000.

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