Council members hear updates on new dog pound, storage at Lions Club

The El Dorado Water and Public Works Board heard updates this week on two long-running city projects.

Robert Edmonds, director of public works, reported Feb. 15 that bids for a new city dog pound are scheduled to open at 2 p.m. March 7 and bids should also be ready to go next month for a new storage shed/workshop for Lions Club Municipal Golf Course.

El Dorado City Council Member Judy Ward, who also moderates the EWPWB meetings, reminded Edmonds that bids for the dog pound were supposed to have been opened Feb. 9.

"It was supposed to open in February but there was an addendum put out because it was the desire of most of you guys, that you wanted it heated and cooled," Edmonds explained. "So, there was an HVAC addendum put out so it's March 7."

In 2018, the city council dedicated $22,907 from the city's reserve coffers to relocate the city's dog pound and build a new facility.

With additional funding from the public works' budget, Edmonds had reported that about $40,000 was available for the project.

Three years later, the city accepted an offer from LANXESS to lease two acres of land at the intersection of U.S 82 and South West Avenue/Southfield Road as the new site for the city pound.

The agreement calls for a 99-year lease at a nominal fee ($10 per year) to the city.

Edmonds and city officials have said the new site allows space for future expansion, including the addition of more pens to house dogs.

Also, heavy traffic flow and high visibility in the area will help to curb break-ins and dog thefts -- which have been an ongoing problem at the existing pound next to the City Shop on Martin Luther King Boulevard, they said.

Edmonds previously reported that the Department of Public Works had looked into potential cost-saving measures to build the new pound, including razing an existing building on the LANXESS site and salvaging and re-using some of the materials for the new facility.

On Dec. 14, Edmonds said cost estimates that were compiled for construction in 2021 "were way out of line" due to a rise in the cost of building materials and labor -- an increase that was spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic and inflation.

Edmonds said the project would be rebid this year, as would another long-running project to build a new storage shed/workshop at LCMGC.

Storage shed/workshop

Plans for the shed/workshop have been more than three years in the making.

In September 2019, Ken Goudy, chairman of the El Dorado Parks and Playgrounds Commission, broached the topic with his fellow commissioners, saying that LCMGC manager Danny Carelock had expressed the need for a shed to safely store chemicals -- a requirement by the state -- and a workshop where LCMGC employees can safely repair equipment.

Carelock had provided an estimate of $15,000 - $20,000 for a 32 x 30-square-foot building.

"The one that's there now is falling down and it's not secure. So, it's going to cost that much to do that and to do it right," Goudy said at the time.

The project had been included in early drafts of a master plan and funding requests to improve and upgrade city parks.

Over the past three years, the EPPC has secured funding from the El Dorado Works tax -- a one-cent city sales tax that is dedicated to economic development, municipal infrastructure and quality-of-life projects -- for several park improvements, including paving the Leslie Ann Darden Memorial Trail, new basketball courts for Lions Club Park, new equipment for LCMGC and more.

However, before the parks and playgrounds commission presented its initial funding proposal to the El Dorado Works Board, who administers the sales tax, in December of 2019, Goudy and Edmonds announced that the LCMGC storage shed/workshop had been cut from the proposal and that funding for the project had been allocated in the city parks' budget.

Edmonds also said then that the project would cost $30,000.

Weeks later, city officials agreed to suspend some city projects to assess how the COVID-19 outbreak would affect the city's budget and the storage shed/workshop was among the projects that were put on hold.

Last December, Edmonds told city officials that the $30,000 bid for the shed came in prior to the COVID-19 outbreak and the project would have to be rebid.

He had said weeks earlier that bids were advertised last summer but none were submitted.

Edmonds told water and public works board members this week that he notify them in March when the new bids are ready to go.

Auditorium parking lot

He also said that crews are expected to begin repaving the parking lot of the El Dorado Municipal Auditorium next week.

On Feb. 9, the city council voted in favor of a $237,000 funding request from the El Dorado Works tax to improve the auditorium parking lot, a project that community members have been requesting for a number of years.

The EWB approved the funding request on Jan. 31.

"That's something that has been in horrible shape for decades. For the last several years, there's been quite a bit of drainage work on the (west side of the auditorium) and the parking lot has been used as a staging area (by contractors) and it's becoming in very bad disrepair," city Council Member Vance Williamson, who also chairs the city's Finance Committee, told EWB members then.

Greg Downum, chairman of the EWB, forwarded the funding request to the city council for consideration on Feb. 9, telling council members that the cost includes $183,000 for materials and $54,000 for labor.

Much of the work will be contracted out, while the Department of Public Works will perform some of the prep work and the re-striping, he said.

The city is hoping to complete the parking lot improvements ahead of the 49th annual Arkansas Governor's Conference on Tourism, which will be held in El Dorado Feb. 26 - 28.