Having won a fifth term as mayor last month, Jerry Wilkins is relatively certain he will be able to see the completion of a project more than a decade in the making.
The final piece of the puzzle to link all Booneville Public Schools, the city’s parks, and downtown with sidewalks was approved back in April, but work on the project has yet to start.
The city was approved for $100,000 in funding to complete the bridge tie ins and a sidewalk between Veteran’s and Marcelle Phillips city parks, as well as installation of sidewalks along Seventh Street from the Boys & Girls Club of South Logan County to McCandless. Included is a solar powered crosswalk at Seventh and Highway 23.
The project will also add a sidewalk between Seventh and Eighth on McCandless, thereby connecting the sidewalks that go to Plum Street and connect the high school.
Wilkins sought lighting for the trail connecting the two parks but that was denied by officials with the Arkansas Department of Transportation, the funding entity for the project.
Wilkins said last week the city has been paying the engineering fees for the project and that the plans were approved and bids have been awarded by the Department of Transportation.
While the project ties together a large portion of the city and most of the walkways for school age children, Wilkins said the city is still lacking sidewalks from City Hall eastward towards the Walmart Supercenter.
The mayor said he would be trying to land a grant or grants for such a project and while most of the property on the south side of Highway 10 is community owned, the chances of the project are not good.
Other than the sidewalk project, Wilkins said he expects the city to acquire between $200,000 and $300,000 for street work within the city in 2019, but he is unsure when an announcement for that funding will be made.
That money comes from funds derived through the approval of a highway tax by state voters in 2012. Seventy percent of the tax is utilized by the state with the remaining 30 percent turned back to cities and counties.
Wilkins said it has been a couple of years since Booneville received any of the money and he has completed the paperwork for this year.