BV council hears report on potential public transit connection

Friday, November 4, 2016

A public transportation system could become a possibility for Carroll County.

Jeff Hatley, public information officer for Ozark Regional Transit, gave an activity report to the Berryville City Council at its Tuesday meeting and discussed his research into a proposal to add a fixed route connection from Carroll County to the Northwest Arkansas corridor.

Hatley said he met with Berryville mayor Tim McKinney and Green Forest mayor Charles Reece in June to discuss what it would take to establish a fixed route connection in Carroll County. Berryville currently has a Paratransit route and a Demand Response route which use minivans to pick up residents who have submitted applications and transport them to their destinations, he said.

A fixed route system, which Carroll County does not currently have, would use buses that follow scheduled routes, Hatley said, and residents could catch the buses at different stops and ride them to the next destination, including the Northwest Arkansas region.

He said he has spoken with Mercy Berryville and large employers in the county such as Tyson Foods, American StitchCo and Kerusso about the possible fixed route system.

"Everyone recognizes the need and benefit it would give Carroll County residents, especially access to healthcare over in Northwest Arkansas," Hatley said. "And obviously, there is some entertainment value and employment value as well."

Not only would it provide Carroll County residents easier access to resources available in Northwest Arkansas, he said, but it would also provide Carroll County employers access to a larger labor market.

"There is a limited labor market over here for some of the skilled labor companies need, so this would obviously benefit them," he said.

McKinney asked if there would be any possibility of including Huntsville into discussions about the possible fixed route system.

"I don't know. Some people in Huntsville have approached us independently," Hatley said. "It will be easier to connect with Huntsville because it is 15 miles away as opposed to 45 miles away here."

He said the issue with adding Huntsville to the route would be time constraints with the early morning shifts at the different large employers in both areas.

"The question is how to fund this project," Hatley said. "We're going to have to develop a coalition in order to do that, and I think it will be a long ordeal."

He said he plans to start attending the Carroll County Hometown Health Coalition meetings at the Berryville Community Center to further see how public transit can benefit the county and help get contacts within the county to survey interest for the project.

The council also voted to approve Ordinance 997 on its second and third readings to rezone a parcel of property at 1306 W. Trimble Ave. from R1 single family residential to C2 highway commercial. The rezoning will allow Nighthawk Custom to proceed with its proposed expansion project.

The council later voted to deny a streetlight request submitted by Faith Apostolic Church on Cedarvale Road.

McKinney said the project would involve at least two poles. The city is allowed one pole and a certain amount of wire by Entergy, he said, but there would be added costs.

"I can see the need for a streetlight there. There are about two to three blocks of Cedarvale that don't have any lights."

Alderwoman Linda Riddlesperger asked if the church had any outdoor lighting of its own.

"No. I think they probably need to get some," McKinney said.

"They might need to look at some lighting on the side of their building first then," Alderman Max Nichols said.

Alderwoman Cindy George said she walks the area regularly and does not see a serious need for the streetlight.

"I walk that every morning, and it never seems that dark," she said. "I can't see installing a streetlight for one location when 99 percent of their activity should be during the daytime."

The council also voted to move forward with a condemnation recommendation for a house at 211 Campbell St.

McKinney said the city has received a request from the Berryville School District to condemn the house because it has been abandoned for a while, has begun deteriorating rapidly and has become a place where students sneak off to from school.

"They try to board it off once in a while, but kids find a way to get in there," he said. "It's turning into a real public health and safety concern."

The council voted to instruct the city attorney and building inspector to move forward in the condemnation suit against the property.

Also at the meeting, Berryville Boy Scout Troop 128 arranged with the council that troop members will adopt Saunders Heights and clean the area, including trails and parking spaces, twice a year in the fall and spring. The city will pick up the trash bags after troop members are done, and a sign will be put up stating that the area is being maintained by Troop 128.

McKinney said that the 2016 Leaf Pick-Up scheduled for November will have to be rescheduled because of the warm weather the area has been experiencing.

"Leaf pick-up is supposed to start next week, but the leaves are still on the trees," he said. "What we're going to do is run the route quickly in case someone does have leaves out, but we're probably going to have to move the whole schedule back about two weeks until we can see what the weather will be like."

The council's next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 15 at City Hall.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: