Leader Blues

Monday, September 10, 2007

TOP STORY >>Cabot roads will be repaired with $1.5M bond

Leader staff writer

Jerrel Maxwell, Cabot’s director or public works, told city residents Thursday night that he would take the $1.5 million left from a $2 million bond issue and make it go as far as possible toward improving city streets.

Top of the list, but not yet in any particular order, are widening Highway 89 West and Locust Street, extending Elm Street, repairing Greystone Boulevard and repairing Dietrich Lane.

But he also said his street department workers would repair Cleveland Street, where residents from apartments run by the Lonoke County Housing Authority said water stands all but about three months of the year.

One elderly resident from the Cleveland Street area who attended the meeting called to get input from residents, told Maxwell that the water stands for so long that tadpoles grow into frogs there. And even letters to city officials inviting them to go frog gigging have not led to any improvements.

“I was pleased with the comments we got,” Maxwell said after the meeting.

Voters passed a one-cent tax in September 2005 which supports the $2 million in bonds for street improvement. City Attorney Jim Taylor confirmed Thursday night during the meeting that all the money must be spent by September 2008, or by law, it will have to be returned.

Alderman Ken Williams, who attended the meeting, pointed out that since the special census in 2006, the city is now collecting about $30,000 more in state turnback than previously, and all that money must be used for streets.

“That’s not chicken feed. It’s a lot of money and a heck of a lot more than we had before,” Williams said, adding that the city should do as much as possible with the $1.5 million in bond money then develop a plan for upgrading streets with the $30,000 a month that is going to the street fund now.

Lonoke County Judge Charlie Troutman, who also attended the meeting, said in response to questions from Maxwell that it costs about $70,000 to pave a mile of road.

“A million and a half won’t go far,” Troutman said.

From the $2 million, the city has already paid $175,000 for the right-of-way to extend Elm Street and $250,000 to complete S. Rockwood, which connects Highway 5 to Wal-Mart.

Maxwell said after the meeting that Bond Engineering is already working on plans to widen Highway 89 West from Wal-Mart to Arena Road, about a half mile. Troutman, who has provided labor and equipment for other city street projects this year, has not yet said yes to helping with Highway 89, Maxwell said.

But Troutman has said that what is good for Cabot is good for Lonoke County.

Alderman Eddie Cook said widening Locust Street is essential because it will be the route many will take to get to the freeway after the new overpass is completed in about 18 months.

Alderman Becky Lemaster pointed out that acquiring right-of-way to widen that street will be problematic because of the many houses in the area. Cook told Maxwell during the council committee meeting that followed the public meeting to prepare a prioritized list for the committee to consider next month when it meets.