When 2018 was drawing to a close Booneville Mayor Jerry Wilkins said he expected the city to have the sidewalks installed which would complete connections between all the school campuses in the city, as well as the downtown, during the next year.
When 2019 ended, that was not the case.
A project froth with delays appeared to be headed toward completion in September when James Dreher, a project for Landmark Engineering, attended a city council meeting and said it looked as if the final holdup on the project had been addressed and work would begin soon.
That was not the case.
One of those delays, Dreher said, was an environmental impact study that should have been done a year earlier had finally been completed.
There was also a question as to ownership of a portion of the project, a misunderstanding Dreher placed firmly on Arkansas Department of Transportation (ArDOT) officials — ArDot is the funding agency for the project.
However, about a month later city officials were asked to provide more documentation on the piece of land in question.
That portion, where Raney and Veteran’s Parks meet, shows up on both deeds for the property.
However, the city owns both of those properties, including one with a stipulation that the land connecting Marcelle and Veteran’s parks be named Raney Park and that it only be used as a park, or ownership reverts to the Raney family trust.
Dreher attended the September meeting after Wilkins discontinued payment of engineering fees for the project.
After the meeting the city did pay one outstanding bill, and has not been billed again, according to City Clerk Gayleene West.
West said she has not had contact with anyone on the project since October.
Combined, through five project invoices, the city has expended almost $13,500 in engineering fees for the project which has an estimated price tag of $165,000.
That estimate is now almost two years old.
The plan, which was approved by the Department of Transportation in April of 2018, calls for completion of tie-ins for the two bridges between Marcelle Phillips and Veteran’s parks, as well as installation of sidewalks from the Boys & Girls Club of South Logan County at Seventh and Kennedy along Seventh Street to McCandless.
There will be an additional block of sidewalk from McCandless between Seventh and Eighth streets, connecting the sidewalks that currently run to both the junior and senior high schools.
The project also calls for a pedestrian crossing beacon at Seventh and Broadway (Highway 23) which will be solar powered.
Once completed, there will be sidewalks essentially connecting the downtown with all schools as sidewalks from downtown to the municipal complex are already in place.
Although the plan was approved almost 20 months ago, the project is older, much older.
Originally, the grant for the project was written with plans to install the bridges between the parks.
However, the Booneville School District had also received a joint use agreement to install a new disc golf course that would encompass both parks and the connecting Raney Park.