Council makes short work of agenda

It only took an hour for Benton City Council to approve five ordinances and two resolutions and hear committee reports in a meeting Monday night.

Two of the ordinances dealt with the purchase of land and one authorized the start of street projects.
Ordinance 48 of 2014 was passed on all three readings by a vote of 9 to 1. The lone negative vote resulted from the absence of Alderman Evelyn Reed.

The ordinance authorizes the purchase of five acres of land adjacent to the Saline County Fairgrounds. The acreage will be paved for use as a parking lot for the Riverside Center complex.

The ordinance states that the parking lot will be available for use by the fairgrounds for three events each year. One of the events is set for the Saline County Fair each fall with the remaining two events at the discretion of the county based upon events at the fairgrounds and availability of the lot.

Mayor David Mattingly said the process of working with the county on the site began in January of this year.

"The city attorney and the county attorney pulled it together," he said. "Judge (Lanny) Fite is ready to move forward with designating the land as surplus."

Once that declaration has been made, a public auction will be held with the stipulation that any individual or entity that purchases the land must abide by a common parking agreement for use by the city and the county.

Mattingly said the purchase of the site is a "big step toward putting things together so that roads and other structures can begin at the Riverside Center."

The ordinance was passed unanimously on all three readings.

Ordinance 44 authorizes street projects in the areas of Christy Acres, Pamela Street, Princeton/Montclair Streets, Longview Street and Overview Street.

Mattingly said the process of determining which projects would receive priority began in the spring of this year. Aldermen from each ward worked in conjunction with the administration to compile a priority list.

"This is a very positive step to do things for city infrastructure now that Military Road is complete," he said.

The ordinance passed unanimously on all three readings.

In other business, $16,346 was approved for the purchase of computers for the police department. Of this amount, $12,192 will be paid with a grant received by the department. The remaining $4,154 will be paid from the Benton Police Department seizure fund account.

The ordinance passed unanimously on all three readings.

A community development grant worth $9,500 will be used for the creation of an Historic District Design Guideline Handbook for the city. The council unanimously approved the expenditure.

The council passed a resolution to purchase land adjacent to the Ralph Bunche park as a means to expand offerings in the area for the parks department.

Alderman Jerry Ponder submitted a report from the Advertising and Promotion Commission.
Ponder and Alderman Lori Terrell serve on the commission.

Ponder reported that 50,000 visitors have visited the Benton Event Center since its opening in October 2013. "Weekends are booked through spring of 2015," he said.

Ponder also reported that a funding request to the commission from the Gann Museum's ad hoc downtown mural committee was put on hold until a determination could be made as to the legality of using commission funds for the project.

The next council meeting is scheduled Aug. 25.