Bobcat Plaza forces use of Porta-potties

Friday, October 17, 2008
Berryville Mayor Tim McKinney put a stop-work order on construction at the Bobcat Plaza after he found that plans had not been submitted to the State Health Department (Anna Mathews / Carroll County News)

BERRYVILLE -- The new shopping center in Berryville, known as Bobcat Plaza, has been slow to open because of misunderstandings, easement issues and oversights.

At present, there is no water service, and construction of the main entry into the center has been held up.

The water delay is attributed, in part, to a stop work order issued by Berryville Mayor Tim McKinney after he was told plans were never submitted to the state health department, as required, for the new water line.

"When I found out, I shut down the job and contacted the state and begged forgiveness," McKinney said. "A city employee was diciplined for letting the work begin without state approval," he added.

McKinney said he appologized to developer Scotty Villines for the oversight, and expedited the project to get it back on track.

He said Villines initially wanted to service the center with a three-inch line from his nearby business, Bobcat Carwash.

"But, for fire protection and future growth, we wanted an eight-inch line and we paid the difference in cost for the pipe and bedding, and said we would put in fire hydrants," McKinney said. "Then I found out there was no engineer involved and plans were not submitted to the state. I had to shut the job down."

McKinney said because the problem "was partly our fault," he offered to provide the city's engineer to submit the necessary plans to expedite the process.

Villines says all he needed was a three-inch line, but the city decided to increase the size to eight. He said it was the city's responsibility to submit engineering plans because it was an extention of city services, and his responsibilty didn't begin until the water line crossed onto his property.

The city's water line extention followed the West Freeman Avenue roadbed, another point of contention for the project.

It is there that Villines planned to put his main entrance to Bobcat Plaza.

It is the same roadway where the city has a widening and expansion project underway to accomodate growth on the school's West Campus.

To accomplish that, the city asked for a portion of land where the Church of the Latter Day Saints has its temple. The church also owns a 50-foot wide strip of land along the entire lenght of West Freeman, from its temple to the state highway, a strip of land that once was the driveway.

Because negotions between the city and the church involved Mormon leaders in Salt Lake City, Mayor McKinney, citing time constraints, pursued comdination proceedings so the city's work could continue. McKinney said the city sought only the land it needed.

"The city thought about condemming all that land at one time, but wanted to limit its impact," he said.

Villines said he presumed the comdination included land he needed for his entrance.

"The mayor and I didn't communicate," he admitted. "I started talking with the church a year ago. I backed off thinking I would be dealing with the city."

McKinney said Villines got caught in the middle. "They (the church) put off negotiating with him, and he thought the city was condemming all of it."

"I am caught in the middle," Villines confirmed. "The church wants to sell to me, but their attorney said it's all on hold until they reach a final settlement with the city. I told the mayor and the church I don't care how it works out, but I wish they would hurry up and settle."

McKinney said a meeting has been scheduled between the city attorney, church attory, Villines and himself to help move this along.

"It shouldn't be this hard for someone like Scotty (Villines) to do a city project like this," McKinney said.

McKinney was not present for the recent ribbon cutting ceremony that was held at the center last week to celebrate the opening of the Carroll County Center campus of North Arkansas College where GED and ESL classes have been underway and college credit courses are planned.

McKinney said he was visiting his mother that day, who was experiencing health problems.

Some three dozen students have been attending morning, afternoon and evening classes at the center although there is no water.

The water system is in place but can't be used until the state health department gives its okay after checking water samples.

According to a campus staffer, they were in dire need of moving in and were allowed to do so with porta potties positioned nearby.

 "The health department didn't have a problem with it as a temporary solution because of extenuating circumstances," said Berryville's Building Inspector Carl Goins. He said water samples are expected back the end of this week and will hopefully clear the way for water usage.

In the meantime, students and teachers at the college center are primarily using restroom facilities at nearby businesses on their breaks, said the staffer, who added, "Our students love the new facility!"

Other businesses that plan to open once water taps are turned on include Encore Clothes, Occasions Bridal, Cornerstone Bank, St. John's Home Health, and a beauty salon.

Villines said the temporary entrance into into Bobcat Center is next to the car wash, between it and the bowling alley.

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