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Council hears presentation on historic preservation

by Bradly Gill | July 15, 2021 at 5:00 a.m.
Photo by Bradly Gill Ralph Wilcox, left, National Register and Historic Survey Coordinator and Tom Marr, federal program and tax credit manager, speak to the Camden City Council about the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program.

By Bradly Gill

News Editor

The Camden Board of Aldermen voted for several nuisance homes to be destroyed and appointed new members to the city's airport commission during the board's July meeting Tuesday evening.

Aldermen Marvin Moore and James Bell were absent for the meeting.

Salary question

As the council considered approval of June's financial minutes, Alderman L.E. Lindsey questioned the salary of workers at the splash pad at Carnes Park.

The city's Parks and Recreation budget showed that $6,394 was paid out in regular salaries in the month of June.

"The pool's not open, the splash pad is. We're paying $6,400 dollars in salaries for summer. Do we have lifeguards at the splash pad?" Lindsey asked.

Mayor Julian Lott affirmed that there were workers employed at the splash pad.

"That's a way to go broke," Lindsey said.

The financials were approved unanimously.

Audience participation

During the audience participation part of the meeting, Larry Mitchell asked what the rules were as far as erecting new structures, as he said his neighbors have installed a pipe that obstructs his driveway.

Lott told Mitchell that Code Enforcer Ben Wooten would meet with him after the meeting and visit his property.

Carolyn Green also addressed the council about a drainage ditch that needed repair, as well as property on Adams Street and a property owned by the mayor she said needed to be cleaned up or condemned.

Preserving history

Ralph Wilcox and Tom Marr of the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program also gave a brief presentation to the council Tuesday about historic districts and registering property on the National Historic Register.

Marr said there are many advantages to the register, one being tax credits cities can receive to maintain historic properties. He also said that municipalities could form Historic Commissions that could regulate what could be done to the outside of homes and businesses within historic districts.

"Because of the new Spring Harrison District, we are hoping you will come back to help get them off the ground. I'm sure there will be some questions to come as we move forward. We wanted you to come and make the community at large aware of what we are trying to do. Our actual goal is, since tourism is such a big thing in the State of Arkansas, we hope that there are people who will check the list and say 'we want to go everywhere in Arkansas and see certain styles of homes,'" Lott said.

The Spring Harrison District encompasses Spring Street roughly between Greening and Thompson streets, Clifton Street roughly between Spring and Harrison streets, and Harrison Street roughly between Van Buren and Clifton streets and was designated a historic district in January of this year.

New business

Ordinances declaring structures on Biser, Cleveland and Chestnut streets dilapidated structures were passed unanimously.

Lott said that this was the first step in the process of these buildings being demolished and removed.

"We are closer now than we have ever been" to removing these particular homes, Lott said.

Ordinance N0. 3-21 authorizing Camden Water Utilities to increase sewer rates of customers on the airport sewer system passed unanimously.

Rates will increase by $2.00 for each customer base and 3o cents per 1,000 gallons of water.

David Richardson spoke to the council and said the increase was due to Shumaker Public Service increasing the rate it charges Camden Water Utilities to treat water.

Ordinances were passed unanimously to appoint Charles Gaston to the Airport Commission as a voting member and to appoint Trenton Walker as an ex officio member. Gaston is replacing Roderick Cooper, who stepped down citing post-retirement responsibilities.

Ordinances were also passed to allow Kyle Gatling and Tim Jordan to enter into business contracts with the City of Camden. Gatling operates a heating and cooling service and Jordan operates an industrial general contracting service. Both serve on the airport board.

In other airport business, Jason Fletcher, an airport board member, submitted a plan to create an area near Nix's Airport Liquor as a space for food trucks.

The area would be a crushed rock parking lot with electrical receptacles. Fletcher said the airport board would rent spaces to the growing number of food trucks in East Camden and would possibly see a return on investment in as little as two years. The project is budgeted at $50,000.

An ordinance to approve the purchase of a credit card for Airport Chairman Kyle Gatling to be used for purchases under $1,000 was tabled until more work could be done on the ordinance. As of now, Gatling submits invoices from his personal credit card to be reimbursed by the city.

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