Mayor Lioneld Jordan held his latest town hall meeting Monday night at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.
About a dozen people attended the event to hear Jordan and several department directors discuss what’s been happening in the city over the past few months.
Downtown parking deck update
Jeremy Pate, development services director, said crews are moving right along on construction of the new downtown parking deck.
Pate said now that piers are in place and decks are taking shape, he expects the project to be complete by early November.
The $10.9 million project includes a 240-space deck and new administration offices on the south end of the Walton Arts Center campus at the corner of Spring Street and School Avenue.
Other construction projects
Chris Brown, city engineer, discussed a few scheduled transportation bond program projects, including a realignment and extension of Van Asche Drive between Garland and Gregg avenues.
The $4.6 million project will create a straight connection from Garland Avenue to the shops and restaurants near the Northwest Arkansas Mall. Plans call for a four-lane boulevard with sidewalks on both sides of Van Asche, and a 12-foot-wide multiuse trail on the south side of the street. Van Asche will be widened to four lanes from Garland to McGuire. From there, a landscaped median will separate traffic on the new boulevard to Gregg Avenue. A left-turn lane is also planned at the Garland intersection.
Brown said the plan is to wrap up construction by the middle of the year.
Other projects expected to begin this year include the restoration of two historic bridges on Lafayette and Maple streets, and an extension of Rupple Road from Owl Creek School to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
Upcoming projects set for construction in 2016 include improvements to Zion Road from Vantage Drive to Crossover Road; continued enhancements to College Avenue from Maple Street to at least North Street (possibly all the way to Sycamore Street); and new sidewalks and trails along Old Wire Road.
Terry Gulley, transportation services director, highlighted a few major sidewalk construction projects set to begin this year.
One of the more difficult jobs for transportation crews will be adding 1,750 feet of sidewalk to the south side of East Dickson Street between Washington and Fletcher avenues. The project, which is currently in the design phase, includes several challenges like extending box culverts and railings near a creek that runs under the road, and the acquisition of a large amount of right-of-way needed to build a sidewalk along the steep and narrow terrain.
“Fortunately we have some property owners who have been pretty generous in giving us some of that right-of-way,” said Gulley.
Gulley said another major sidewalk project is coming to a close on Markham Road.
The work included building an 1,820-foot sidewalk on the south side of the road that ties into existing paths on Markham from Cross Avenue to Pratt Place Inn, and recently completed sidewalks along Cross and Halsell Road.
Dealing with invasive species
Peter Nierengarten, sustainability and resilience director, discussed a recently approved plan to develop a policy to address invasive plant species, which negatively impact the native habitat in Fayetteville.
City Council members last week approved a resolution of intent to develop policies to help reduce the spread of harmful non-native plants like bush honeysuckle, whose rampant and aggressive growth leads to dense thickets that block sunlight, and ultimately prevent natural species from growing underneath.
A local biology teacher who spoke at the Council meeting said there are 297 invasive species in Washington County, which is the highest in the state.
Bush honeysuckle did not exist in North America until it was brought over from Asia in the late 1800s. The species was actually once sold at a local nursery and promoted as ornamental landscaping, which likely contributed to the overwhelming amount of bush honeysuckle that’s now in the area.
New city website
Lindsley Smith, communications director, encouraged residents to visit the city’s newly redesigned website at fayetteville-ar.gov.
The site includes a new content management system that makes it easier for residents to find documents, watch city meetings, pay parking tickets, or report needed street repairs.
Regional park update
Connie Edmonston, director of parks and recreation, said work has begun on the new regional park off Cato Springs Road.
Construction of the first phase, which is set to be completed in late 2016, includes six soccer fields, three lighted baseball diamonds, two concession stands, parking spaces, and associated infrastructure.
Soccer fields are a top priority because the city’s 1,500 youth soccer participants will need a place to play once the University of Arkansas reclaims its Lewis Park complex in 2018.
Other phases could include baseball fields, basketball courts, softball fields, sand volleyball courts, a large pavilion, trails, a playground, an amphitheater, and a splash pad.