By Tammy Moore Teague
The Waldron City Council adopted resolution 2018-04 in August, which entered the city into a partnership with the Arkansas Department of Transportation. Additionally, both parties agreed to the guidelines set forth to proceed with the project. In the final installment of this series, Waldron Mayor Neil Cherry speaks out on the prospective economic growth and future following the resolution’s passage.
Cherry stated that “due to all the misinformation out there on this, I feel like this needs to be addressed. This access break on Highway 71 will come at no cost to the City of Waldron.”
Cherry expressed his satisfaction with the recent partnering Agreement of Understanding between the City of Waldron and The Arkansas Department of Transportation after receiving the City’s copy of the executed agreement from the Department.
“You can’t spend money you don’t have,” stated Mayor Neil Cherry, “and we have no intension of spending the City’s operating funds for the development of a street between Harp’s Foods and the former Wal-Mart building. Furthermore, any such construction by a developer will be years down the road.”
Cherry went on to explain that a first step has been made with the Agreement of Understanding approved last August between the City of Waldron and the State Highway Department that allows for a future break in access to be processed when the time is appropriate. “The ice has been broken,” stated Cherry.
At some time in the future when a developer provides the City with a proposed, engineered, and platted street plan for the property, the plans will be reviewed and approved by the City. The expenses for the platting and engineering will be paid by the developer. Then, the City will run the course of approving the plan and incorporating it into the City’s Master Street Plan. The extension of the street onto the bypass will also have to be approved by the Federal Highway Administration.
“I certainly hope at this point, the City can locate an available grant and assist with the development. We would like to see consideration for extending any proposed street on the property to also connect behind Harp’s from West 6th Street and extend to West 2nd Street behind the former Wal-Mart building. This would greatly improve traffic flow and safety.”
Local governments often participate in development for economic growth or for retainage of existing businesses when there is concern about losing a business or industry. Cherry referenced the recent extension of a sewer line north along U.S. Highway 71 Bypass in 2016 that served such a purpose.
The last part of the agreement with the State will be for the City to accept maintenance for a portion of Highway 80, between 71 and Highway 71B. Before this part of the agreement is completed, the segment of highway will be repaired to state highway standards and receive a complete asphalt overlay.