A proposal to purchase four Kraft Avenue properties for the purpose of expanding Stone Bridge Memorial Park will go before the Fayetteville Board of Mayor and Aldermen this week.

In a work session Thursday, officials agreed to place the item on the agenda for the board’s April session, to get underway at 5 p.m. Tuesday. Altogether, the cost of acquisition and demolition of the structures that occupy the properties is estimated at $217,000, which includes $185,000 for purchase and $32,000 for demolition.

The purchase of a fifth property on Shawnee Drive is also being eyed by the board, but its acquisition isn’t expected to be included in the proposed purchases of the other properties. According to discussion, the asking price on it is $50,000, substantially below its apparent $22,900 tax card value.

“I’m interested in purchasing them for future parking,” said Alderman Tonya Allen of the four Kraft Avenue properties, going on to say that space for additional parking is limited.

“That’s too much money for parking spaces in my opinion,” said Alderman Jeff Alder.

Noting that two of the northern Kraft Avenue properties do face the greenspace adjacent to the park, Alderman Donna Hartman said that the park is landlocked – “If it’s in the corridor or the hub between downtown, the park and Camp Blount, I don’t know why we wouldn’t want to expand it and grow the park,” she said. “We’re landlocked by the river on one side and by Main Street on the other.”

Regarding the Shawnee Drive property, board members were generally in consensus to have the property appraised and then make an offer contingent on that appraisal.

“I think anything inside that area along Shawnee we definitely need to try to purchase, but I don’t know about the $50,000 – I think that’s a stretch,” said Alderman Danny Bryant.


Wi-Fi on the square

Also on the agenda is a proposal to spend $2,500 for equipment to begin public Wi-Fi testing on the square.

“This is a project I’ve been working on for a few years,” said Jerry Taylor, information technology director for the city, adding that he believes the availability of public Wi-Fi on the square would be of benefit to the city. “I’m glad that the board didn’t approve it two years ago, though, because the price has come way down.”

One of the reasons costs have decreased, he said, is that Fayetteville Public Utilities has agreed to help install the equipment on traffic signals around the square. The Wi-Fi coverage would extend out 600 feet 360 degrees.

Ultimately, a splash page would explain use, any risks and other pertinent information. The public Wi-Fi would not be available for general use by businesses, according to discussion, though some limited use might be permitted.

As a second phase, Taylor said he hopes to add outdoor speakers, allowing for music around the square during certain times of the year or during certain events downtown.


KidsPark improvements

The second phase of repairs to playground equipment at KidsPark is expected to be completed soon, said Chris Mitchell, parks and recreation director, noting that he continues to work with representatives of Miracle, which manufactures the playground equipment.

“We’re working to get the repairs done as quickly as possible,” said Mitchell, explaining after the meeting that any in-house repairs, or repairs by any contractor other than Miracle, would void the warranty on the equipment.


Other business

A proposal to spend $18,325 to replace a current server with eGov services, allowing for an upgraded payroll system, fixed assets and permits will also be on the board’s agenda Tuesday. An extensive discussion centered on the city’s servers, software and services.

The board is also expected to act on a bid submitted by Richardson Waste Removal for continued operations of the city-county recycling center located next door to the Fayetteville-Lincoln County Museum and Civic Center. The bid is for $7,000 per month, which would be divided equally between the city and county, as part of a five-year agreement.

The city’s strategic plan, the result of the City Board’s strategic planning session held in February, is also on the agenda for approval during this week’s meeting.

Mayor Michael Whisenant summarized the upcoming evaluation process relating to City Administrator Scott Collins whose current contract expires in July.

Issues related to North Bellview Avenue were also discussed. The street was recently paved, however, due to an unforeseen situation that developed on Hatcher and Swanson, utilities work forced sections of the new asphalt to be dug up. A meeting was scheduled for Monday of this week to discussion the issue and concerns.

Eddie Plunkett, director of public works, discussed complaints the city had received on the appearance of storage buildings at the rear of the department. He was to meet with a contractor and gain an estimate on improvements following the work session. That will then go to the city’s public works committee.

Officials were also brief on construction currently underway for a new Popeyes Famous Fried Chicken as well as the new Midway gasoline and convenience store, which is expected to begin construction soon after delays resulted while a new site plan was put together to address drainage issues.

Budget hearings are continuing, according to discussion, as officials discussed the budgeting process, requests by local nonprofits and upcoming requests from department heads.

Lengthy discussions focused on transparency, as officials discussed concerns voiced during the City Board’s March session and an ongoing study of traffic at Askins School. Those discussions will be the focus of articles in next week’s edition of The Times.

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