Thursday night, Cherokee Village residents are invited to a public hearing to discuss a possible new public park for the city.
But those who attend will not see design drawings, cost estimates, or learn where the new park will be located.
"We're a long way from doing anything but discussing it," explained Mayor Lloyd Hefley at the June 24 City Council meeting.
Hefley told council members he had been meeting with the White River Planning and Development agency about applying for a state grant which would pay half the cost of a new park, up to a maximum of $250,000.
Andy Bridgers, a planner for White River, said the initial discussions have been about a 30 acre park which would include a soccer field, a picnic pavillion, and playground equipment, all accessible to the disabled.
But, Bridgers added, those plans are just conceptual and the first step in the actual planning process is the public hearing to find out what type of new recreation facilities the community would like to see.
A legal notice which appeared in the June 24 issue of The News invites citizens to a public meeting on Thursday, July 1 at 5 p.m. at Cherokee Village City Hall "to identify potential outdoor park and recreation needs and priorities for 2010."
"It bothers me to schedule a hearing," said Councilman Ray Stokes who was one of several council members who expressed surprise they had not been informed of the discussions about a possible new park, funded through a 50/50 Arkansas Parks and Tourism grant.
"It (the public hearing) gives the perception the city wants a park and plans to do it," said Stokes. "Without cost estimates, it is putting the cart before the horse."
Bridgers explained the hearing needed to be held as soon as possible because an application for the grant must be submitted by Aug. 31. "By the time we apply, we'll know what the first phase of the project will cost," said Bridgers.
Councilman Peter Martin also expressed concern. "Why apply just because grant money is available?" asked Martin. "I think our grant request for storm sirens is more important."
"People would rather see road improvements than a new park," added Stokes.
Despite the concerns, the council did not try to block the public hearing to discuss the possible new park. It is still scheduled for Thursday at 5 p.m. at city hall.
In other business, Police Chief Rickey Crook told council members his office is working to establish an automated Senior Watch program. Under the program, seniors who do not have family or friends who regularly check on them can sign up to receive a daily recorded call checking on their welfare. An officer will be sent to follow up in cases where seniors do not respond. According to the chief, the cost of equipment will be small and a local volunteer, Bob Smith, will help coordinate the program.
In other action, the council voted to accept a $148,289.25 bid for resurfacing Cherokee Road in the Town Center area and nearby Santee Drive.
Street Superintendent David Crayne says Cherokee Village residents will see more than twice the usual amount of repaving this summer. The city hopes to upgrade more than 20 miles of street surface, compared to eight or nine miles a year in recent years.
Crayne also told the council the city still expects to receive up to $250,000 in federal and state funds to cover clean up after the January 2009 ice storm and repairs which still need to be made.
So far, Cherokee Village has received approximately $900,000 in FEMA ice storm assistance.
It still hopes to receive federal money to help cover cleanup costs from October 2009 flooding.