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Land purchase ‘big deal’ for Cabot

One of the keystone projects promoted in the recent improvement bond refunding was given the “green light” in a special meeting of the Cabot City Council held Monday evening. In a unanimous decision, City Council members approved the purchase of land for the Cabot Parks and Recreation Sports Complex for $750,000.

“This is a big deal for Cabot,” Mayor Bill Cypert remarked on the vote.

Cypert and aldermen Ed Long, Ann Gilliam, Rick Prentice, Ryan Flynn, Kevin Davis, Angie Jones, Jon Moore and Dallan Buchanan attended the meeting.

Other officials included Water-Wastewater Commission chairman Gary Walker and Parks and Recreation Commission chairman Maggie Cope and parks director John Crow.

The gallery was made up of a number of persons including residents of the area and other city officials.

After the meeting, Cope said that there is great satisfaction in seeing a dream of better parks facilities coming true. Then-parks director Larry Tarrant first proposed the sports complex nearly eight years ago, she said. “This has been a long time coming,” Cope remarked.

The 50-acre parcel, being sold by the Odom Family Living Trust, is near the intersection of Bill Foster Highway (Arkansas Highway 321) and Kerr Station Road. A portion of the land is an airstrip.

The land is to be the site of the Sports Complex, with nine baseball fields, two softball fields, outdoor pool complex, a playground, picnic pavilions and a walking track.

The meeting was not without controversy, with residents whose property is near or adjacent to the sports complex site questioning traffic control and access to the area, as well as the agreement among the Trust, the City and the Water-Wastewater Commission.

The residents also learned that whether or not there would be a connection with the sports complex and Kerr Station Road, where that connection would be and if additional traffic control is needed is yet to be determined.

An addendum to the purchase agreement provides for additional land to be deeded to the city should a traffic study, being made by ETC Engineers & Architects, Inc., show the need for a connection to Kerr Station Road.

Dirt needed to raise the roadbed would be excavated from the Odom farm.

Most questioned in public comment was the 150 gallons per minute wastewater capacity “reserved” for development of the remaining 50 acres held by the Odom Living Trust.

In the agreement, the city and Cabot Waterworks allow 150-gallons/per minute wastewater capacity for the undeveloped residential and commercial property. The reserve is based on three lots per acre on about 30 acres of residential area, and one to one-and-a-half lots per acre on 58 acres of commercial property.

Any future development beyond the wastewater capacity reserved for the Odom Living Trust will be paid for by the developer and will be in accordance with the construction standards of Cabot Waterworks.

The parks and recreation improvements were among six projects to be funded in bond issues approved by voters in the April 9 special election. In the election, voters approved refunding the existing improvement bond and extending the city one-cent sales tax to generate the revenue to pay on the bonds.

Voter turnout for the special election was about 6.5 percent, with 833 of nearly 13,000 voters registered in the city casting ballots. The measures were approved with about 72 percent of the vote.

In a number of public meetings held before the election, Cypert explained that the current bond, itself, was a refunding of a 1999 bond that paid for water improvements. He pointed out that the 2005 improvement bond would be paid off in 2016, 15 years ahead of schedule.

The 2013 improvement bond would be paid in 20 years if revenue stayed at the present level, but he expected that it, too, would be paid early, Cypert said. He predicted that bond refunding would be a regular process to help maintain and upgrade city facilities.

At $13.5 million, the parks and recreation infrastructure bond is the largest of the six projects approved by voters. The projects include the North Terminal interchange on U.S. Highway 67/167 at $9.5 million; wastewater collection system improvements at $8.2 million; community center renovation and expansion at about $5.5 million; library renovation and expansion at $2.6 million; and the Highlands area drainage improvements at $500,000.

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