Currently, there is no path from Hot Springs to Little Rock dedicated to pedestrians nor bicyclists. A surge in interest from the public in trails and greenways on existing trails in central Arkansas is creating a large demand for a trail to connect Hot Springs National Park with the Arkansas River Trail system. The 60-mile trail will provide a safe route for pedestrians and bicyclists to enjoy outdoor recreation while simultaneously providing an economic stimulus to Central Arkansas.
Since 2014, the Pulaski, Saline and Garland counties have worked in collaboration to obtain funding to design the Southwest Trail. The design cost is approximately $3.2 million. The counties obtained $2.6 in grant funds; the counties will split the remaining cost. In January 2018, Pulaski County issued a request for qualifications for architect and engineering services for the preliminary design.
In 2018, Garver Engineers was chosen to complete an environmental assessment, assist with public involvement and associated stakeholder meetings.
Pulaski, Saline, and Garland Counties, in coordination with the Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), held three public involvement meetings to present and discuss location alternatives for the Southwest Trail.
After the public meetings, the project team has been reviewing and incorporating public input, and revising the proposed trail alignments. Additional environmental studies and design work is taking place. An environmental document will be prepared later this year, followed by a public meeting anticipate in fall 2019 to review the revised alignment and Environmental Assessment document.
A Southwest Trail project update newsletter is available to view and download on the project website. Find out the status of the project study, schedule information, and how to be notified when the next public meeting is scheduled.
The Little Maumelle Bridge project is finally complete. The seven month long project, engineered by Development Consultants Incorporated, began on July 25, 2015. DCI, along with Mobley Contractors, have constructed a newer, wider, and more durable bridge located half a mile past the Ferndale and Kanis intersection.
The opening ceremony for the new bridge was held February 06, 2017 at 10:00 a.m.
Thank you to DCI, Mobley Contractors, and our team at the Road and Bridge department for overseeing the building of our new “Steel Truss Bridge”!
Pulaski County Government held a ribbon cutting and open house Thursday, Aug. 4 for the Pulaski County Higgins Community Center.
The more than 2,600 square-foot facility is complete with a multipurpose room, education room and warming kitchen. The multipurpose room features a retractable wall that converts the room into two classrooms. The education room contains five computers.
The total cost of construction was approximately $347,000. Grant funds included $50,000 from State Senator Linda Chesterfield and $3,000 from Wal-Mart for computers.
WE CARE Executive Director Patricia Jackson said, “I am overjoyed to once again provide much needed services to this community in a new building. I’m thankful to the County for seeing the need and fulfilling that need.”
The program WE CARE operates from the facility to provide services such as recreational programs, youth development, emergency assistance and tobacco prevention. WE CARE serves communities of Southeast Pulaski County including Sweet Home, Higgins, Wrightsville, Woodson and Hensley.
“The WE CARE program has been a valuable resource to the Higgins Community and surrounding areas,” said Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde. “We are proud to know that because of the rebuild the services will continue. Children and youth in the area will continue to have a place to go to receive tutoring, mentoring and guidance afterschool and during the summer.”
The ability to turn on the tap and have clean water is something that most individuals expect. For more than 60 residents in the Southeast area of the County—this was not always the case.
In 2012 it was discovered that residents of the Frazier Pike and Harper Road area were exposed to water contaminated with e-coli. Arkansas Department of Health reports revealed that 15 of 22 wells “were unsafe” and “public water would be in the best interest of the area in regards to public health.”
Tanya Childers of Central Arkansas Planning and Development District (CAPDD) and Mike Marlar of Marlar Engineering, Inc. held a public hearing with the community to gain support of a grant application for a Community Development Block Grant. Before an application could be submitted 51 percent of the residents had to qualify as low and moderately-low income and the community had to support the project. Approximately 75 percent of the Frazier Pike Community qualified as low and moderate-income households and qualified the community to apply for the grant.
The citizen group later made a presentation to the Pulaski County Quorum Court, who then approved the formation of the Frazier Pike Public Facilities Board, chaired by community resident Ricky Thomas.
“Over the years the water quality kept getting worse due to contamination from now closed businesses,” Thomas said. “In my opinion, you can’t have a good quality of life without good quality water.”
At the request of the Facilities Board and Pulaski County Community Services, in March 2013, the Quorum Court voted to allow the County to submit a grant application to the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission for the purpose of extending water to residents of Frazier Pike and Harper Road. Childers was approved to be the Environmental Review Compliance Liaison and the CAPDD was appointed as the grant administrator.
“Every time a project such as the Frazier Pike water extension comes to fruition, it is a great feeling of accomplishment,” Childers said. The Frazier Pike project created a positive quality of life change for that community. There were many individuals that worked together to make it happen. I was blessed to play a part in it,” she said.
After gaining approval from several environmental agencies, the grant application was submitted and later approved. Funding for the project totaled $1,025,000; $775,000 from the Community Development Block Grant Program and $250,000 in loan funding from the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission to be repaid by the collection of $28.15 per meter, per month.
“Pulaski County has ensured the health and safety of families in the Southeastern portion of Pulaski County is protected by completing the Frazier Pike Water system,” Pulaski County Community Services Director Fred Love said. “This will enable current and future residents of this portion of the County safe drinking water; which is essential for a good quality of life.”
The project was officially completed May 10, 2016. Kajacs Construction laid approximately 3.5 miles of waterline to provide clean drinking water to 68 residents, of which 45 received LMI hookups to the new water system.
“There’s nothing more fundamental to a healthy community than access to clean drinking water,” County Judge Barry Hyde said. “This project is a success in the implementation of public works for a community that needed it the most. I’m proud that Pulaski County could contribute to improving the quality of life for the Frazier Pike community.”
The Pulaski County Brownfields and Our House partnered to redevelop the grounds of former Little Rock Veterans Administration (VA) Hospital into a campus that would best serve the needs of the organization and the community. Our House, Inc. provides Central Arkansas’ working homeless with housing, training and youth programs to help them succeed. A programming evaluation revealed the need for a new facility to address a variety of programs and space requirements, as well as the unique developmental needs of homeless and near-homeless children. This evaluation led to the creation and construction of the Our House Children’s Center. The Our House Children’s Center is a learning facility that offers important educational and enrichment opportunities that at-risk children often miss. This brownfield redevelopment project is a modern, flexible facility that demonstrates a commitment to ending the cycle of homelessness by providing a learning space for all of the community’s children to grow and thrive.
The Our House site was idle for 31 years (1982 – 2013). The site was located on the southeast corner of the former Veteran Administration (VA) Hospital grounds in Little Rock. The VA Hospital operated from 1949 – 1982. The remediation of the Our House site was completed in approximately four and half months – March 14, 2013 – July 25, 2013. The total acreage of the Our House site is 1.42 acres with an approximate remediation footprint of 1 acre. The remediation area included an approximately 8,850 square feet single-story structure. The structure consisted of the former hospital boiler plant and adjacent facility maintenance shops, as well as the removal of three underground storage tanks. Once the remediation work was complete, construction of the new Children’s Center took 12 months to complete. Construction began in June 2013 and concluded in June 2014. The total time frame from remediation to redevelopment of the Our House site was one year and three months.
When the hazardous materials such as asbestos and lead-based paint were properly removed, the demolition of the site structures was completed and soil was graded to drain. Once the remediation was completed, the construction contractor began preparing the entire site for final grade and located three underground storage tanks (UST) in the northwest corner of the property. Two 29,660 gallon USTs and one 13,746 gallon UST were removed, as was 576 tons of contaminated soil and 60,655 gallons of diesel fuel. Clean backfill was used. The site graded to drain; erosion and storm water control put in place. Cleanup funding was 100% provided by the EPA Pulaski County Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund Sub grant. Our House was required to contribute a 20% cost-share match.
Because of the Our House Children’s Center, homeless and near-homeless children in central Arkansas are able to receive high-quality care and support, in a world-class facility, to help them grow, learn, and reach their full potential. The Children’s Center operates two programs: Little Learners, for 60 children age 0-5 each day, and Our Club, for 90 children age 6-17 each day. Both programs are licensed and quality-rated by the state child care licensing agency. Little Learners is a curriculum-based early childhood education center that provides all-day care, with the goal of helping children reach their developmental milestones and prepare for success in school.
The Our House Children’s Center impact on economic development is not demonstrated through an increase in taxes or new commercial space, but through the providing a pathway out of homelessness for families. This pathway includes free childcare for parents so they may concentrate on finding employment, or for working parents that cannot afford childcare. By providing this service, the parents are able to re-establish their families in the community.
In 2013, Arkansas passed legislation authorizing local governments to create PACE districts. The Pulaski County Energy Improvement District was created in 2015 by the Pulaski County Quorum Court to help create jobs, retain wealth and grow Pulaski County’s economy by enabling Property Assessed Clean Energy Financing. Our program, Pulaski PACE, provides commercial property owners the opportunity to realize energy and cost savings through facilities improvements and receive up to 100 percent financing, repaid as a property tax assessment for up to 20 years. The assessment mechanism has been used for decades nationwide to access low-cost and long-term capital to finance improvements that meet a public purpose.
Pulaski PACE is a valuable tool used to overcome the challenges of implementing energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in commercial, industrial and multifamily residential buildings and agricultural applications located in Pulaski County. Pulaski PACE can finance energy efficiency improvements such as insulation, windows, lighting, HVAC or roofs, water conservation improvements such as low flow fixtures and agricultural irrigation improvements and technologies that produce energy such as solar, wind and geothermal.
The three primary objectives of the Pulaski PACE program are:
- foster green jobs and boost local employment opportunities;
- reduce energy cost and promote utility savings for property owners; and
- encourage energy efficiency in buildings to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Pulaski PACE is administered by two third-party companies, Property Assessed Clean Energy Arkansas (PACEAR) and Arkansas Advanced Energy Equity, LLL (A2E2), that developed and administer programs for the marketing, financing and administration of projects in renewable energy generation, energy generation, energy efficiency improvement, weatherization and water conservation projects utilizing PACE financing in Pulaski County.
For more information contact either Pulaski PACE Administrator or the Pulaski County Attorney’s Office.