Council to consider funding for Rec Complex study

Liquor license ordinance, Shepherd recognition round out meeting agenda

El Dorado City Hall is seen in this News-Times file photo.
El Dorado City Hall is seen in this News-Times file photo.

El Dorado City Council members expect to hear a funding request regarding the El Dorado-Union County Recreation Complex when they meet at 5 p.m. today in the Council Chamber of City Hall.

The opening prayer and Pledge of Allegiance will begin at 4:55 p.m.

The El Dorado Works Board approved Tuesday a funding request of up to $200,000 to cover the cost of a detailed engineering study for the second phase of a master plan to renovate and expand the recreation complex on Champagnolle Road.

The El Dorado-Union County Recreation Complex Commission presented the funding request during a regular EWB meeting.

The EWB administers the city's one-cent sales tax -- also called the El Dorado Works tax initiative --, which is earmarked for economic development, municipal infrastructure and quality-of-life projects.

The EWB vets proposed projects and funding requests and if approved, the proposals are then recommended to the El Dorado City Council, who holds the purse strings on city sales-tax revenue.

The EUCRCC has been working for several years to implement the master plan, which was initially drafted in 2014 and tweaked a few years later.

The plan is broken into two phases.

In early 2019, the city signed off on $2.7 million to cover phase one of the project -- two new soccer fields, two new baseball and softball fields and the completion of two existing baseball and softball fields, all on the south end of the complex.

Work on phase one got underway in late 2019 and was largely completed by 2021.

The El Dorado Works tax funded most of the work.

The El Dorado Advertising and Promotion Commission kicked in an additional $271,800 to help complete the soccer fields after complex commissioners learned there was a budget shortfall for phase one due to unexpected engineering costs.

Donations by Murphy USA and in-kind services offered by Union County assist with both phases of the project.

Phase two entails the construction of a multipurpose field that can be used for various sports -- baseball, softball, football and soccer --, a recreational trail to encircle the complex and parking lot improvements.

The EUCRCC approached the EWB in January and July with a funding request for phase two and each time, EWB members asked the group for additional information, including a detailed engineering study, scope of work and a construction manager for the project.

While the EUCRCC did not walk away with funding for phase two, the EWB on Tuesday granted a request of up to $200,000 for the engineering study.

Greg Harrison, chairman of the EUCRCC, has said that three engineering firms are interested in the job, noting that all three have worked on similar projects with higher dollar amounts in Arkansas and Louisiana.

Representatives from each firm were also present during the EWB meeting Tuesday and answered questions that were posed by board members.

An $850,000 contingency for engineering work has been built into the nearly $4.8 million estimated cost for the project.

Also on the city council's agenda for today is a proposed ordinance regarding private clubs and the process by which they must apply for a liquor license.

A new state law mandates the city council to adopt an ordinance to approve the application before it is eligible for state approval.

Mayor Paul Choate said business owners still must seek an OK from the city and the El Dorado Police Department before the state considers the application.

"Used to, they would come to us and we would give it to the police department and the police would give it back to us and it would go to the state," Choate explained. "It's just that now, we have to have an ordinance in place, our (City Attorney Robert Rushing) tells me."

The Arkansas Municipal League is also on the agenda with a special recognition for Rep. Matthew Shepherd (R-El Dorado to highlight the work he has done as Arkansas Speaker of the House.

Shepherd is the longest-serving House speaker in Arkansas's history, having served in the post since 2018.

His third full term will expire in January of 2025 and he announced earlier this year that he will not seek another term as Speaker.

Shepherd said he intends to seek another term for house seat, which represents the 97th District and includes El Dorado and parts of Union County.

He has served in the state House of Representatives since 2011.

The city council will also consider another round of property condemnations.

During a city council/water and public works meeting on Sept. 27, Robert Edmonds, director of public works, and City Code Enforcement Officer Kirby Craig said the city has run out of funds to contract demolition services work for the remainder of the year.

Edmonds said public works crews may be able to raze condemned properties as opportunities arise once other public works projects slow during the late fall and winter.

Upcoming Events