City Ponders Future of Proposed North Morgan Street
BY MELANIE WADE –
The proposed North Morgan Street project has hit another speed bump in its long debated existence between the City of Mena and the Arkansas Highway Commission.
Mena City Council had approved an initial cost of the project several years ago, however, since so many years have passed without the state beginning the project, prices have increased and the original bid almost tripled. Since the increase was noted last spring, Mena City Council and Mena Public Schools have been working with state architects to lower cost, and had also hoped to add a traffic light at the intersection, once the road is built.
However, Mena Mayor George McKee informed the City Council on Tuesday night, January 9, that the state has deemed the traffic light unnecessary. Another issue with the project is the realignment of the existing road that runs next to The Corner Store, with the new road, which would run from Highway 71, near Mena Ford, to Holly Harshman Elementary. The state informed the Mayor that it would cost an extra $50,000 in engineering fees to realign the design.
The council is now tasked with deciding whether to build the road or not, and whether they can or would absorb the total cost of the project. Those discussions will occur in an upcoming committee meeting, whose date has not yet been announced.
In other council matters, the council approved a decision to pay for half of the cost to build East Boundry Road, which runs from the Mena Public School Bus Barn to Ransom Road. The county owns half of the road and the city owns the other half. As such, the city will pay $33,013.50 and the county will build the road, compensating for their half of the project. Judge Brandon Ellison said he feels the project could begin by mid-April, pending weather patterns.
Also approved was the purchase of a Laserfiche document management service for City Hall to digitally store their documents, making them easily accessible to staff and the public. R&D Computer Systems, LLC submitted the low bid at $6,786, with three total bids being submitted. City Treasurer Linda Rexroad said many of the municipal treasurers in the state use the system provided by R&D and “I have heard very good reports from them,” she said.
Mayor McKee gave an update on the renovations underway at City Hall, reporting the project to be around 75% complete. They are still working with their insurance company to see how much they are willing to pay on the project after a portion of the ceiling come crashing down in late 2017. McKee said until they know how much insurance will pay, they are unable to determine the City’s portion of the cost.
The next monthly meeting of Mena City Council will be held on February 13 at 6 p.m. The public is always welcome.