Monday night’s meeting began with a presentation from Dave Roberts (Maumelle Resident and VP with Crafton Tull) regarding Gateway Park which will be constructed at the corner of Maumelle Boulevard and Millwood Drive.
This site is where the old fire station and municipal court building are currently located. This new park will feature multiple spots for food trucks to set up in a highly visible location along Maumelle Boulevard. In addition, there will be a pavilion available for Farmers Markets and other events looking for a covered, open-air space. There will also be a large grass lawn with string lighting in front of a small stage that can be used for outdoor performances.
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The future Central Arkansas Greenway will come directly through Maumelle and down Club Manor Drive. This greenway will turn off Club Manor and head directly into this new park. I have no doubt this will be an exciting addition to Maumelle and will be great for families to visit by walking or riding bikes along our current and future trail system. Engineering is currently underway on this park so more details will be shared in the future as these plans are finalized and we move towards construction.
Next on the agenda was a review of the city’s financials through March of 2023. The city continues with strong financial reporting and our revenue for the year is $279,000 ahead of budget and our expenses are $505,000 below budget. Our general fund currently has a balance of approximately $12 million.
The only item of old business was a brief discussion regarding Park on the River. I’ve not shared a report in a couple of meetings so I haven’t touched on this in my council recap. At the previous meeting, the council approved an 18-month contract for Team Summit to be able to lease this property as a venue for weddings, receptions, and other small events. The city still retains use of this facility for any events that we want to hold there as well. The previous contract with Team Summit had expired several years ago and had never been renewed. Additionally, indoor events had been shut down during Covid so very little activity has taken place at this site.
The council approved a new 18-month contract for Team Summit to continue hosting events they have scheduled for that property. Additionally, the council asked the mayor to come back to the council within six months and give an update on the future use of this property. This 18-month contract allows the site to still be used until the city decides what (if any) changes we would like to see made with this site so it can be better utilized by our residents. If you’ve not driven out there, it’s a beautiful setting and the city has a boat ramp along the Arkansas River. The primary issue with hosting events there is due to the fact the house on the property is rather small and this limits the size of indoor events that can be held there. Stay tuned for future announcements from the city on when an Open House will be held there so residents can view the inside of the building on the property. The outdoor area is always open so feel free to drive over anytime and take a look. It’s located off of Crystal Hill Road just past First Security Bank.
The next item on the agenda was an appointment to a vacant seat on the Maumelle Planning Commission. Rusty Ray was selected by the council to serve in this seat. Rusty will bring an extensive background in construction to the committee, and I appreciate his willingness to serve. Thanks also to Mr. John Jones who also applied for the position.
In new business, the council heard the first reading of a new ordinance that would allow retired employees to continue on the city’s healthcare plan following retirement. They would have to pay 100% of the cost for this coverage with no contribution from the city, but it does provide an option for people looking to continue health coverage. As an insurance agent, I’d also remind people that insurance coverage is often less expensive through the Healthcare Marketplace, so there are multiple options now for people under age 65 that need health insurance prior to Medicare.
Next, the council approved a lease agreement with the Department of Finance and Administration for the revenue office located inside City Hall. This agreement runs through September 30, 2024 and DF&A will only pay $1 per year in rent to the city. This is a win-win in my opinion since the office uses such a small space within our building and it allows residents to take care of any DFA issues right here in our city. This is increasingly rare in cities across the state, so I’m glad we’ll still have this presence inside city hall.
Next, the council approved a budget amendment to add $16,000 to the City Attorney’s budget for legal fees. These fees are to pay for outside counsel in the matter of Poole v. Maumelle Police Department that is scheduled to be heard before the Maumelle Civil Service Commission. Arkansas law requires the city to employ outside counsel for the police department in these proceedings since the City Attorney will be acting as counsel for the Civil Service Commission. This was approved unanimously.
The next item was a topic that many are excited about in Maumelle. Pickleball! The council approved $600,000 in funds for construction of pickleball courts during the 2023 budget year. Now that engineering has progressed to 60%, the estimated costs for the courts we’re wanting to build have come in around $850,000. The mayor presented some options of scaling down the courts and removing some amenities, but he said his preference was to go with the original plans and build nice courts for our community. The council agreed and unanimously gave their approval to continue engineering the design for 7 courts with a high-quality concrete playing surface. These courts will also include lighting for playing during the evenings and at night. Once the design is complete, the council will appropriate the additional dollars needed to begin construction on Maumelle’s pickleball courts.
The last item of discussion was an agenda item requested by Council Member Holt regarding fees collected by Animal Services. A resident reached out to Mr. Holt as well as the other council members to express their concern about the annual registration fees charged by the city. These fees were changed last year and increased for animals that are intact (not spayed or neutered) and not microchipped. If your dog or cat is spayed/neutered and microchipped, the annual registration fee is still only $5.
That’s all for the week. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns. Chad 501-529-1336, firstname.lastname@example.org