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Bond projects gathering momentum

One of the first actions taken in early 2011 by then-newly elected mayor Bill Cypert was to call a town hall meeting to discuss concerns of residents. Response to the meeting reignited stalled plans to expand the city’s parks and recreation facilities, and encouraged city leaders to begin a move that now includes millions in other infrastructure improvements at Cabot.

“Things are really beginning to take off now,” Cypert remarked Monday about the increasing construction happening in the area.

On Tuesday, May 27, the Cabot Parks and Recreation Commission approved a $5-million bid for construction of the multi-field Sports Complex and outdoor water complex off Bill Foster Highway (Arkansas Highway 321), near the intersection of Kerr Station Road.

The complex is one of the parks and recreation projects, and the largest of all, planned by the Commission using a $13.5 million bond. The parks and recreation plans are among six projects funded by through a bond funded by the city’s one-cent sales tax.

A special election to extend the tax and re-fund the capital improvement bond was held April 9, 2013.

“We are so ready to get this going,” Parks and Recreation Commission chairman Maggie Cope remarked Tuesday. “It has been a long time coming.”

The site is 50 acres and will include a nine-field baseball/softball complex, the outdoor pool facility, walking trail and other amenities.

Cabot needs the complex having outgrown all the current park facilities, Cope said in past remarks.

The Sports Complex is not the only improvement bond project gaining momentum. In mid-May, the Lonoke-Prairie Library System marked the “groundbreaking” for the new Cabot public library. The project will renovate the former Knight’s Grocery Store at the junction of South 10th with West Main. Renovation of the former store kept the cost of a new, sorely needed library to a minimum, compared to building new, facility, library system director Deb Moore said in remarks at the ceremony. The library is expected to be operating by the second quarter of 2015.

Next to the Parks and Recreation projects, the next largest in the re-funding is $8.2 million in system improvements for the city wastewater collection system.

Water and Wastewater Commission chairman Gary Walker said Monday that those projects are well under way.

The Ford Bottoms and West Oaks Interceptors are complete, and the Shiloh and Polk Street interceptors are nearing completion, as is the Second Street Pump Station, he said.

Already there are facilities being closed, such as grinders, as no longer needed because of the improvements, Walker said. “Those pump stations were costing us $80,000 a year to operate,” he said.

Easements are nearly complete for the largest of the projects, the Four-Mile Creek interceptor that will connect the Greystone/Magness Creek areas to the Second Street station.

The Four-Mile Creek project is estimated to be finished in late 2015.

Another of the bond projects is the north terminal interchange on U.S. Highway 67/167 between Cabot and Austin that will connect to Arkansas Highway 38 at the railroad overpass to the east and open access to Greystone and Magness Creek to the west. The city’s portion of the project is funded with a $9.5 million bond.

Initial engineering is underway for that project.

Also under way is the renovation and expansion of the Cabot Veterans Park Community Center, funded by a $5.5 million bond. The improvements for the Community Center include a 24,000 square-foot addition, between the current building and Polk Street; and would include a banquet/meeting room, permanent stage, 5,000 square-foot exercise/fitness room, commercial kitchen, and two racquetball courts.

“We are growing,” Cypert remarked Monday. “Things are looking bright for Cabot.”

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