Project updates are focus of town hall meeting

The first phase of a municipal multipurpose/aquatic center could be complete by the summer of 2015, according to project architect Dave Sadler, who spoke during the monthly town hall meeting held Monday evening at the Pine Bluff Convention Center.

“Conceivably we could be 14 to 16 months out for completion of the first phase of the center,” Sadler said of the project that has been in the works since the February 2011 passage of a five-eighths-cent city sales tax intended to improve the quality of life for Pine Bluff residents.

“I am very excited about this project and its potential to really affect the quality of life of people in Pine Bluff,” Sadler said. “Input from the community is vital for this project so that people can communicate what they would like to see in the new center.

“The center is planned for a lot on 11th Street just south of the Convention Center,” Sadler said. “Funds generated by the five-eighths sales tax bond issue will be used in part to fund the center’s construction. We are at present in the master planning phase, which we expect to take between three and four months.”

Former state representative Efrem Elliott asked Sadler if there were plans to provide subcontractor work to minority-owned businesses during the center’s construction.

“The city will go through a public procurement process for the hiring of subcontractors and that process includes provisions for the hiring of minority-owned businesses,” Sadler said.

Mizan Rahman with ETC Engineers and Architects Inc. of Little Rock provided updates on the Saracen Landing splash pad, the Townsend Park ball field and restrooms at Martin Luther King Jr. Park and Regional Park.

“The contractor for the splash park is presently in the process of getting equipment approved and ordered so that the project can be completed quickly once it is begun,” Rahman said. “The goal is to complete the project either by late this year or by Memorial Day next year.”

Rahman said the restrooms at the two parks are scheduled for completion within the next 30 days.

“We are opening bids for the Townsend Park ball field April 22 and hope that people will be playing ball there next spring,” Rahman said.

Ward 3 Alderman Bill Brumett said he attended a meeting of the Shady Grove Neighborhood Watch.

“There are a number of people who don’t realize that there are two aldermen in each of Pine Bluff’s four wards,” Brumett said. “It was great to be with the folks at the meeting. I gave them my phone number and I have already received a couple of calls from residents since they now know that I represent their interests.”

Brumett also praised the efforts of residents to create the Sulphur Springs-Watson Chapel Neighborhood Watch group.

“They got together and put up a Facebook page,” Brumett said. “It’s just really great what they are doing. It was because of their group that a photo of a vehicle in front of a residence led to the arrest of someone suspected of committing 18 burglaries in the area.”

Ward 4 Alderman Steven Mays expressed his thanks for the many city employees who do a good job on a daily basis.

“They are really doing a great job for us and deserve to be recognized,” Mays said.