Highland is hoping to build a new fire station sooner rather than later with hopes of purchasing the former Midway Plaza site.
In a special meeting May 20, the Highland City Council voted unanimously to offer the owners of Midway Plaza $200,000 for the four acres of property.
"If we're interested in it we need to make them a reasonable offer," Mayor Jerome Norwood said.
Norwood said the Midway property, located on Highway 62/412, is listed for $295,000. He said he was told the family would consider a "reasonable offer" less than the asking price.
The Midway location already has water and sewer plumbed in, he said. Alderman David Harris said the site has at least $70,000 to $80,000 worth of concrete already there. Norwood said the city could later build City Hall and other city offices on that property.
"I think that's the best piece of property from here back to the city limits," Alderman Jack Kimbrell said. "The location is perfect."
Norwood said he had been looking at another property -- the former Pap Beardsley Chevrolet location. The property is listed for $250,000, he said.
Harris suggested the city have a backup plan if the city's offer for Midway Plaza is denied and can't be negotiated. He suggested the city offer Beardsley $150,000 for his property. The council voted unanimously in favor of the move.
Norwood said he backed off the possible purchase of the former Conley Ford building because another group was interested in purchasing the site for a business.
Norwood said the city has applications in with several federally funded organizations for grants to help purchase property for the fire station and build a new station. He said he expects to hear back from those organizations sometime during the summer.
The city has $181,000 to work with for construction of the fire station by way of 75 percent from FEMA, 12.5 percent from Arkansas Department of Emergency Management and 12.5 percent from the city; however, that price does not include the cost of a foundation, Norwood said.
Norwood said he spoke with Bob Evins at Liberty Bank who offered to loan the city the money at three percent.
It is imperative that the city begin construction on something soon. The city is currently paying $715 a month for rent on a temporary fire station; however, reimbursement from FEMA soon runs out, Norwood said.
The Highland Fire Station located near Midway Plaza on Luanne Drive was destroyed Feb. 5 by a tornado ranking an EF4 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale. The tornado also destroyed other structures in the city including a handful of homes and many businesses including Midway Plaza, Highland Window and Door, the Pap Beardsley property, the Conley Ford property, Timberline Restaurant, Crispy Cone Wing Shack and others. Luckily, no one was killed in the tornado.