Berryville council returns to City Hall
The Berryville City Council made a move toward normalcy Tuesday, April 20, returning to holding its regular meetings at City Hall instead of the Berryville Community Center.
Mayor Tim McKinney said it was good to be back.
“It felt good,” McKinney said. “The place feels like home.”
It was the first meeting held at City Hall — the former home of famed sharpshooter and Wild West showman Col. C. Burton “Buck” Saunders, who donated it to the city and willed land and property for the construction of the city’s Saunders Museum, which houses one of the largest collection of rare firearms in the country. The museum opened for the season on April 15.
Tuesday’s meeting was the first held in the council’s usual meeting room in more than 12 months, when the decision was made to temporarily hold meetings in a larger space at the community center to provide room for social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In other business, the council voted to approve a request for two additional streetlights in the West Ridge Subdivision.
The two new lights, requested by developer Bill Hudspeth, will be located in the newly opened phase of the subdivision.
“He’s got a new street open down there and I think this’ll be about the same as other street lights in the subdivision,” McKinney said. “They’ll be spaced out about the same and [the existing lights] look real good.”
As per the initial agreement between the developer — West Family, LLC — and the city, the developer will purchase the light poles and fixtures and be responsible for maintenance, while the city will be responsible for the electricity usage.
The council also heard from Berryville Police Chief Robert Bartos, who delivered his department’s monthly report.
According to Bartos, city police issued 97 citations in March, up from 80 a year ago, and investigated 79 offenses, up from 72 this time last year. The department’s clearance rate, Bartos said, was 83 percent.
The department took in $1,445 in fines and bonds and responded to 13 traffic accidents, down from 15 last year.
During the mayor’s report, McKinney advised council members that work on the planned downtown square renovations — particularly the removal of a number of trees — will begin soon.
“We’re continuing to get ready to start the renovations on the square,” McKinney said. “We’ve been working with the Arkansas Forestry Commission and different ones about the trees up there.”
McKinney said that, based on consultations with an arborist and the state forestry commission, the decision was made to remove and replace some of them.
“There are going to be some trees removed, some of the ashes with ash borer disease, and they’re growing into the oak trees,” McKinney said. “Some of those maples are already dead and others are dying.”
McKinney said the oak trees on the four corners are all in good shape and will remain.
“The trees we take out, we’re going to replace with ornamental trees and smaller trees,” McKinney said.
In addition, McKinney said, workers were scheduled to begin installing underground electric lines on the weekend of April 24-25. The underground lines will eliminate the electric poles on the square.
The council’s next meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 4, at City Hall.