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City applying for drainage grants

By John Miller, 02/23/22 3:44 PM

PRESCOTT – A public hearing to apply for a federal grant to improve drainage in Prescott was held prior to the February meeting of the Prescott City Council Monday night.

The grant, if approved, is for $300,000, from the Arkansas Economic Develop Commission (AEDC) for a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for drainage improvements. As this involved federal funding, the council had to approve five resolutions. The first was to authorize the Southwest Arkansas Planning and Development District (SWAPDD) to open a bank account, the secondĀ  was to submit an application for the grant, with the third naming the SWAPDD grant administrator. The fourth and fifth resolutions are required for all grants involving federal funds, though they have nothing in particular to do with the project in question. The fourth was a fair housing resolution, while the fifth creates a policy prohibiting the use of excessive police force for those holding non-violent civil rights demonstrations.

The fifth resolution was a temporary roadblock as Councilman Jerry Hightower asked for a specific definition of what a non-violent demonstration is, saying he’s seen protests called non-violent though people were throwing rocks. City Attorney Glenn Vasser was unable to provide Hightower with a satisfactory answer, so Mary Godwin, executive director of the Prescott-Nevada County Economic Development Office, made a call to get a legal opinion. Hightower was told the federal statute on non-violent demonstrations goes back to 1964 and more information would be provided.

In the end, all five resolutions were passed.

The grant requires three objectives. The first requires it benefit people in low income families, the second prevent the development of slums, and the third is for other needs posing a threat when no other funds are available to meet these needs. The actual purpose of the grant, if approved, will be to improve drainage from Hwy. 67 to McRae Park. As Prescott Mayor Terry Oliver said, the city has some serious drainage problems where water gets three or four feet deep in places, adding it’s a miracle nobody’s drowned yet.

Councilman Howard Austin said $300,000 won’t do everything needing to be done as there’s street work needed as well, even though $300,000 won’t do a lot of street work either.

He was reminded the city was approved for a state aid grant for streets in the amount of $300,000. Godwin said the bids have been let for this street grant, which was held up because of COVID-19, and the work will be done this year.

Austin continued, saying he’s concerned about buses in the area as some back up on Garland, which is eroding and needs to be stabilized. Godwin said this could be added in the grant application. She told the council the city needs three projects for this grant. It was agreed they would be to improve drainage on Laurel, Third and Hayes streets; Warren Street on the West side of town; and more drainage near Garland.