De Queen Mayor Jeff Brown told the city council at their March 5 meeting that the council needed to know exactly what they were going to do with the Ennis Plumbing building they purchased last year, before they would be able to apply for a grant and get the building on the National Historic Registry. Brown said that the building would then need to be restored to its original design in order to qualify. He said that a $30,000 grant the city would apply for would not even cover the cost of replacing the windows, which have been altered.
Brown said that police department employee Beth Hughes will be sent to school to get certified to write grants and help the city find money for the project.
The building originally housed J.E. Hendricks Grocery when it was built in 1925 and had rooms for rent upstairs.
“It’s in pitiful shape,” Brown told the council. “Every time I go in I find something different that needs repair.”
Council hears proposal to build a food truck court
De Queen resident ZZ Kamruddin spoke to the council about upgrading its ordinance to allow food trucks into the city. He suggested the city build a minimum of four pads with water, sewer and electricity, directly across from the park’s office at Herman Dierks Park to create a food court and to allow food trucks to rent the spots for up to seven days. He said that the plan will benefit the city and bring people to the park.
“We have a playground, we have a pavilion and we have the bathrooms,” he told the council. “Those are the requirements for a food truck.”
Kamruddin said that there are plenty of places to park and plenty of room for the food trucks at his desired location.
“We can bring food trucks into our area from four states,” he said. “Every large city in our state is doing food trucks. We can use that area to encourage people to come and use the park.”
He said that the city won’t be out any money except to build the pads and provide a pole for electric.”
Kamruddin handed a list of what it would take for the city to make the food truck court happen, which included providing table or bench seating, covered or open. The list included rules such as having the trucks state certified, carrying health department permits, and annual city and county permits. He suggested that the food trucks would also be able to attend community events such as movie nights, the 4th of July celebration, Hoo-Rah Days and more.
City attorney Laura Lindly said that Little Rock has a book city officials can get ideas from.
“Everyone likes food trucks and they’ll travel distances to be there,” Kamruddin said, noting that there was plenty of interest around town.
Council amends 2018 budget again
The council again amended that 2018 budget ordinance after a mistake was noted by City Clerk Donna Jones. Jones said that a line item for the judges/clerks’ retirement fund in the amount of $244,802 did not process to the budget passed for additional payment to Arkansas Public Employees Retirement System. The council approved the ordinance 5-0, with Alderman Jeff Holcombe absent.
Council agrees to increase funding to May Fiesta Fest
The council reversed course on a pledge to donate $800 for a generator to power carnival rides at the upcoming May Fiesta Fest, which has been moved from the Sportsplex to the courthouse square, instead opting to fund not only the generator but half the cost of the rides, which amounts to $3,650.
Alderman Kathy Richards, noting that this was the first time the city had been asked to partner with Fiesta Fest organizers at UA Cossatot, told the council that she was hoping that the council could give “a little more.” She said that the city, in the spirit of bringing various cultures together, should give more than $800.
Alderman Dr. Jason Lofton spoke in agreement with Richards, saying that he had spent considerable time in Mexico and South America bringing people together.
UA Cossatot marketing coordinator Daniel Martinez Haro, told the council that whatever support they could provide would be appreciated.
“We moved it downtown to create an impact on the community as well as the downtown area,” he said, noting that De Queen is famous throughout the region for its food.
“Creating this event, we’re hoping it gets bigger and also draws tourism to De Queen,” he said.
“I like the fact we’re going to participate downtown on our square,” said De Queen Mayor Jeff Brown. “A lot of people can walk to get there — people that can’t get to the Sportsplex. I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be great deal and I think it’s going to be bigger and bigger every year."
The council voted 5-0 to approve the resolution with Alderman Jeff Holcombe absent.
Four resolutions passed by council to receive grant
The city council ended the evening by passing four resolutions that were contingent to applying for an Arkansas Community & Economic Development Grant through the Arkansas Community and Economic Development Program. The grant is an infrastructure grant for up to $200,000, which the city plans to use to build a backwash water tank at the water plant.
The first resolution allowed the mayor to sign for the grants, The second designated the non-profit Southwest Arkansas Planning and Development District agency as Community Development Block Grant administrator. The third resolution established a policy prohibiting the use of excessive force by law enforcement and the fourth resolution was a fair housing resolution.