(Town Crier photo/Revis Blaylock)
Only a few Manila citizens attended a public meeting to express opinions for the construction of a swimming pool. The meeting was held Monday evening prior to the regular September city council meeting.
Jeremy Bennett and Roy Brymer offered positive comments about the construction of a swimming pool in Manila.
Bennett said an aqua center would attract people to the community.
"I visited the aqua center in Paragould and I was amazed at the kids, parents and community participation," Bennett said. "While I was there I thought how great it would be for Manila to have something like it."
Bennett said he and his family have lived in Manila for three years.
"There are a lot of good things in Manila," he said. "It is growing and moving forward."
Issues including a time set aside for older adults to use the pool, cost, locations, swimming lessons, lifeguard training, fees, rules, and more were discussed as the visitors looked at a preliminary sketch of a proposed swimming pool with a water slide, diving board and children's pool.
Brymer, incoming president of the newly formed Manila Kiwanis Club, talked favorably about acquiring an aqua center for Manila.
"Everything about the Kiwanis Club is geared to serve the community and benefit the children," Brymer said.
Bennett and Brymer announced to the city council plans for an upcoming Wings Over Cotton Festival scheduled for Oct. 27 in Manila.
Following the public meeting, council members approved three ordinances, 2007-02, 2007-03 and 2007-04. The 2007-02 calls for the levy of a one percent sales and use tax for park and recreational purposes to expire Dec. 31, 2019. Ordinance 2007-03 calls for a special election on Nov. 13, 2007, to vote on the 1 percent sales and use tax. Ordinance 2007-04 will give voters the right to vote for or against the issuance of improvement bonds in the maximum of $1,400,000 to finance all or a portion of the costs of acquiring, constructing and equipping improvements to park and recreational facilities, including particularly, without limitation, a new outdoor swimming pool.
"It is important all pass," Mayor Veach said. "You can pass the ordinance and pass the tax but if the bond issue does not pass, we will have to wait for the funds to build up to fund the swimming pool. The bond issue is important to get the swimming pool done now."
"That is what we got into last time," Councilman Dwight Booth said.
The swimming pool fund now has approximately $150,000. This fund comes from half of the one-eighth cent tax dedicated to the project several years ago.
Mayor Veach said two bids were opened for the construction of a new fire station.
"The bids were high," Veach said. "The engineers suggested we reject the bids. I recommend we reject all bids and advertise again."
Council voted unanimously to reject all bids.
Police Chief and code enforcement officer Jackie Hill updated the council on property clean-up.
"I acquired an address and sent one letter today condemning the property," Hill said. "There are other properties where I am at the point to bring to court."
City Attorney Wayne Wagner said the next step is to bring owners to court.
"The judge can fine the owners or the city can take steps to remove the building and put a lien on the property," Wagner said.
Council agreed to go forward with the clean-up efforts.
"Once we start, we need to finish," Wagner said.
The council discussed the purchase of speed bumps to be placed in problem traffic areas.
"I don't like speed bumps but if we need to slow down the traffic, it may be necessary," Councilman LeRoy Douglas said.
Councilman Booth suggested Mayor Veach purchase one or two speed bumps to place in a problem area to see if it slows down the traffic. No objections were expressed from council members and Veach said he would look into it.
In other business:
*Mayor Veach presented a sketch for a youth recreation center but said he was not ready to go forward with the project until the pool project is settled.
*Attorney Wagner said he and Mayor Veach will meet with the attorneys and representatives of Buffalo Island Rural Water Development (BIRWD) on Thursday to discuss the pending lawsuit. Manila council voted in December 2006 to increase the rates for water sold to the rural water company.
"Hopefully, we will get it settled," Veach said. "No doubt Manila has done our part and we want to be fair to our neighbors in the country."
*Veach said the city should have street paving estimates by the end of the week. The city has approximately $64,000 in the street department.