McKinney: 2018 will be busy year for Berryville
Mayor Tim McKinney presented his State of the City Address at the Berryville City Council’s Tuesday meeting, remarking that the many improvements and projects underway will keep the city busy in 2018.
He said these projects kicked off in 2017 and included the purchase of land for a new industrial park, the voter-approved extension of a 0.5 percent sales tax to issue more than $6 million in bonds, $650,000 in grants received for parks and street improvements, the completion of pre-construction work to begin the rural water extension project and the development and implementation of Berryville Works 2020.
“These things will make 2018 one of the busiest years in my time as mayor,” McKinney said.
After years of planning, he said the city will begin construction work this year on expanding its water system with up to 41 miles of new water lines outside the city.
“This will be an important catalyst for the future growth of our city,” McKinney said.
He said the $9.5 million project will be funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Arkansas Natural Resources Commission (ANRC) grants and a $1.5 million USDA loan, which will be paid with revenue derived from new customers.
More than 400 new customers have already signed up for service, he said, and more than 300 easements have been granted to the city.
“When we began this project, we were told to expect at least 10 percent of the easements would have to be acquired using the condemnation process,” McKinney said. “I am pleased to inform you that we are currently down to two easements which will have to be condemned.”
He said he believes this shows that people realize how much the project is needed and how valuable a resource a clean and reliable source of portable water is.
“It shows that they are willing to allow waterlines on their property to not only serve themselves, but also their neighbors,” he said.
Another new addition to the city this year, McKinney said, will be a much-needed youth soccer complex.
“During the soccer season, we have kids practicing and playing soccer at just about every available place in town,” he said. “This park will have multiple fields where all of our kids can safely play at one family-friendly facility.”
He said the facility will also include a walking path, restrooms and other features. The city received a $250,000 grant from the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism Outdoor Recreation Grant Program to help build the soccer complex, and the remainder will be funded by bond revenue that is funded by the 0.5 percent sales tax, he said.
The city also completed the purchase of 160 aces for a new industrial park in 2017, McKinney said, which will ensure the city is prepared to move forward in the recruitment of new business and industry to Berryville.
In closing, McKinney said he believes the city and its residents are doing well with the challenges still before them.
“The challenges we face are mostly related to growth,” he said, “and are the kind many cities wish they had. I have no doubt this council will meet those challenges as they have in the past, and I look forward to working with you in the years ahead of us.”
Also at the meeting, Berryville Police Chief Robert Bartos gave the monthly police report. In the month of January, he said the department wrote 105 citations, reported 64 offenses, served 11 warrants, did 18 fingerprints and did three VIN verifications. There were 22 accidents reported, he said, and the department had a clearance rate of 88 percent.
McKinney also announced that he had proclaimed the week of Monday, Feb. 12, to Sunday, Feb. 18, Ronald McDonald House Week.
“They needed that before this meeting tonight, so we went ahead and signed it,” he said. “It’s a great cause, and I hope everybody locally supports it. Many families throughout the years have used the Ronald McDonald house.”
The council later voted to approve the use of the Pension Mountain Mixed Use Trails for the Pension Mountain 5K Trail Run and Hike on Saturday, March 27.
The council’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 6, at City Hall.