Circuit breaker: Electrical pole blocks goal for BV soccer complex

Friday, March 8, 2019

By Kelby Newcomb

Mayor Tim McKinney told the Berryville City Council that the city has been trying to get power to the site of the new Berryville Soccer Complex, which would also provide power for the streetlights on Freeman Avenue.

To do so, he said the city will need to put one electrical pole in the corner of the property belonging to Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). The only other alternative, he said, would be to put electrical poles and guy-wires in the Berryville Memorial Cemetery.

“Entergy said they don’t want to do that, and we don’t want them to do that, either,” McKinney said.

He said the city started discussions with the church in September, offering to put a streetlight on the electrical pole at the city’s expense.

“We were dealing with someone from the church in Bentonville or Springdale,” McKinney said. “We sent them sketches and all that stuff. We got an email back from them in November that said they’d shared it with their facilities manager and he said it looked like a good location.”

He said they had advised the city to proceed with plans for the power pole location, but Entergy did not want to set the pole before getting the church’s signature on the easement.

“So we sent it, and they said ‘We’ll need to send this signature to our real estate department,’ ” McKinney said. “Then it got tricky. Long story short, it’s now in Salt Lake City’s hands. Entergy is frustrated, and I’m frustrated.”

He continued, “The last correspondence we got from them was actually directed to Entergy and they copied us on it. They wanted us to send a legal description of the property where the pole would sit. They want us to indemnify them and a long list of other stuff.”

McKinney said Entergy declined to fulfill the requests.

“Entergy is trying to work with us on this, but this is just an easement and they can’t do all that,” he said. “The bottom line is we need to make a decision of what we’re going to do.”

“So I assume this one pole is holding the whole thing up the way we’re trying to do it without going through the cemetery?” asked alderman Max Nichols.

McKinney said that was correct. He said the city could either find an alternate route, which would be very expensive, or condemn the section of property needed for the power pole.

“So they want a legal description of the area described as the easement,” alderman Jason Williams said. “Do they have a survey to provide us to work with?”

“Entergy is not willing to do that or indemnify them,” McKinney said. “Entergy said it’s unheard of for setting one pole. The city even offered to put a streetlight on that pole. It would light up their parking lot very well and basically be a free night watcher because it would be on the city’s account.”

He said he does not understand why this power pole became such a big deal.

“You’d think we were trying to condemn 10 acres,” said alderwoman Cindy George. “Do they understand they’re going to get a free night watcher light out of it?”

“Entergy has explained the whole thing,” McKinney said. “Apparently it was OK with the local people, and they told us to go ahead and set the pole. But Entergy wouldn’t without the easement.”

He said the city can widen its road easement, and Entergy can put the pole on it.

“Or we can request Entergy to condemn it on the city’s behalf,” he said. “They also have powers of condemnation.”

“So we condemn for an easement?” George asked.

McKinney said city attorney Clint Scheel would have to do some research.

“It’s really close to our existing easement,” McKinney said. “We could just widen our existing easement for the road, and Entergy said they would take care of it from there. We kept trying to find something out because it was going on so long. When I tried to contact the local person, [the email] came back rejected by the LDS Church International.”

“It sounds like the simplest thing is to try to condemn it if all we’re going to do is expand our easement,” George said.

“If we condemn it, we can go ahead and file money with the court and get the job going,” McKinney said. “We hope to be playing soccer this summer. This has been going on for six months now, and it seems to be getting more complicated instead of less.”

He continued, “If you all are OK with it, I’ll get with Clint, and we’ll figure out the best course of action to get this resolved.”

“I think it would be better than thinking about going across the cemetery for sure,” Nichols said. “I don’t think anybody would want to do that.”

The council also voted to authorize McKinney to sign a contract with a global positioning system (GPS) company to have a GPS antennae at the city’s wastewater plant after the contract is reviewed by the city attorney.

“They have to have sites every so often that make the GPS tell you were you are at, so to speak,” McKinney said. “Berryville happened to be in one of those spots. They need wide-open spaces so they can see the full sky. They’re offering $1,500 for the year for us to let them put one at our wastewater plant were it would have some security.”

The contract will be renewed annually, he said, and the city will have the option to either receive $1,500 or to use the company’s GPS service for free.

“It’s exactly what we need for when we GPS our manholes, water valves and all that stuff,” McKinney said. “We can get free service. There’s no franchising of any kind. It’s not a competitive thing. It’s not an information gathering device. It simply communications with the satellite as a set point in the GPS.”

Also at the meeting, Berryville Police Chief Robert Bartos presented the police department’s monthly report for February. Bartos said 99 citations were written, 57 offenses were reported and 11 accidents were report. He said the department served 13 warrants, did 13 fingerprints and 10 VIN verifications. The department collected $1,600 in fines and bonds, Bartos said, and had a clearance rate of 82 percent for the month of February.

The council’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 19, at City Hall.

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