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Quorum Court meeting today with light agenda

Harrison to give Complex update by Caitlan Butler | June 16, 2022 at 12:00 a.m.

The Union County Quorum Court has a light agenda for their monthly meeting, which is scheduled for this morning.

No ordinances or resolutions are set to be evaluated this month. According to the agenda, JPs will only need to review county budgets and revenues.

District 3 JP Greg Harrison, who chairs the El Dorado-Union County Recreation Complex Board, is also set to give an update on the complex and its financials.

Last month, Harrison recounted to other Quorum Court members the situation that prevented the El Dorado School District from holding 5A state soccer tournament games at the Complex.

"The fields were in progress of being ready to play. Lightning struck a control box of a sprinkler head and of lights on (April) 25," Harrison said. "For a week, they were trying to find the insurance to see what the premium would be... The city, with the lightning striking the control boxes, they were able to find that the electrical had not been grounded, so luckily the city escaped any major expenses for repair."

Harrison said a new control box for the sprinkler and lights could have been ordered sooner -- possibly making tournament play on Complex soccer fields possible -- had insurance information on the new construction at the facility been readily available.

Prior to the lightning strike, ESD Athletic Director Phillip Lansdell, an ex-officio member of the Complex Board, expressed concerns about bald spots on the soccer fields. Because of heavy rainfall last spring, the first field seeding, in March 2021, did not take. Harrison said the fields had been reseeded three times since then, in August 2021, March 2022 and April 2022, and fertilized, and needed to be watered.

"We needed to water the fields, so we weren't of the ability to do so, and that's why the fields were not in the position where Coach Lansdell felt comfortable having games played out there," Harrison said in May.

"Hopefully, matters such as attaining insurance will become more of a priority for the city, and then, you know, that way the city won't be responsible for $195,000 worth of lights not working," he continued.

El Dorado Public Works Director Robert Edmonds said Wednesday he knew the city was working on securing insurance for the new construction at the Complex, as well as other properties owned by the city.

"We're still working on the Complex. There were a lot of other things that we discovered too were either not insured or under-insured -- the police shooting range; that fire simulator the Fire Department bought; the auditorium was undervalued; and the police station," Edmonds said. "None of the contents of the buildings were included; that's taking a little time to get together."

Edmonds said the city is working with the Arkansas Municipal League and looking at some private insurance carriers. He said they hope to have more information about insurance options by the beginning of next week.

Harrison also said the Board is hoping to secure a grant this fall from the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism to help fund construction of a walking trail around the Complex facility.

"The State of Arkansas will give up to $250,000 to go toward a project and we're going to request that for a walking trail. The City of El Dorado just recently resurfaced the walking trail over at the Lions Club, costing them $165,000, but this would actually require some, you know, making room for the walking trail, so it's going to probably be a little bit more than that," Harrison said. "If we're ready to make this presentation come October, that could be some funds that could be utilized to help towards phase II of the project."

Extensive renovations at the Complex began in 2019 and were mostly finished by 2020, though some items do remain on the punch list. Approximately $3 million worth of work has been completed for phase I, including the addition of two new soccer fields, two new baseball/softball fields, new turf, new lighting, new fencing; the completion of two existing baseball/softball fields; and the installation of two used concession/restroom kiosks.

The remaining component of phase one calls for additional restrooms to serve the south fields.

Phase II of the plan calls for the walking trail, parking lot improvements and a new baseball field for older teens and adults. Potlatch Deltic Corporation has donated nine acres of land to expand the Complex facility, and Harrison said in May he'd met with representatives of the company and El Dorado City Council members to finalize deeding the property to the city.

The Quorum Court's meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. in the third-floor conference room at the Union County Courthouse.

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