WH council calls for May 14 vote on bond issue for community center

WHITE HALL — The city’s six aldermen voted unanimously Tuesday evening to adopt an ordinance calling for a May 14 election on a maximum $4.5 million bond issue to help finance a $7.5 million community center and aquatic park.

The Advertising and Promotion Commission voted unanimously Feb. 8 to recommend the council call the bond vote. A municipal bond issue to begin construction would be retired with revenues from the 2 percent sales tax on prepared food and motel rentals adopted in 1997, Commission Chairman James “Jitters” Morgan stated.

“This is a no tax bond,” Mayor Noel Foster said Tuesday, emphasizing the commission did not recommend a new tax, but to pledge revenues from an existing tax to pay for the improvements.

Foster said $3.5 million generated by the food and rental tax has been held in reserve, but is not sufficient to build what residents asked for in a 2012 municipal survey. A pool or water feature rated high with 88 percent of survey respondents.

The proposed center would include a full-size basketball gym, classrooms, large meeting rooms and an elevated walking track, based on plans prepared by architect Fred Reed of Pine Bluff.

The city-owned tract at Dollarway and Hoadley roads has been cleared for the project. Reed developed plans for the 24,000 square foot community center, while McClelland Consulting Engineers Inc. of North Little Rock worked on plans for the aquatic park.

Aldermen also approved a resolution for mowing and litter removal along Interstate 530 in White Hall. City crews would do the mowing and jail and prison inmates would pick up litter under the agreement with the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department.