The Pine Bluff City Council on Monday did not discuss a resolution that would have removed the former Kress building in downtown Pine Bluff from the list of properties declared public nuisances and ordered abated (torn down).
The resolution, sponsored by Alderwoman Thelma Walker, was pulled just before the meeting started with no explanation.
During a meeting of the council’s Development and Planning Committee last week, Walker said she had been in contact with Elvin Moon, the owner of the building, and several others in the downtown area, and that Moon told her he wanted to board it up until he decided what he was going to do with it. The building was placed on the abatement list four years ago, and since then, Moon has been found guilty of violating a city ordinance in both district and circuit court.
He lives in Los Angeles.
Even though the resolution was pulled, it didn’t stop a couple of city residents from voicing their opinions on the matter.
Dee Herring Gatlin, who also owns property in the downtown area, said property that ends up on the abatement list does so because there is either a safety issue, the building is an eyesore, or is a public nuisance. She said Moon had not done anything to correct any of those three issues.
She said that other buildings owned by Moon that have been torn down have left messes that still will have to be cleaned up.
“He has the gall to be asked to be taken off when he hasn’t done what he is supposed to,” Herring Gatlin said.
Also speaking was Wanda Bateman, who was misidentified as the owner of the Crown Motel in a story in The Commercial Sunday. Bateman owned a two-story structure that was located at 301 W. 5th Ave., where she had an office and rented rooms upstairs. That house burned three separate times and was torn down in 2011.
Alderman Glen Brown Jr., the chairman of the Development and Planning Committee, said that although the building had been torn down, it was still on the abatement list. “We are just cleaning up our documentation.”
Alderman Bill Brumett, another member of the committee, said there will probably be more structures found that need to come off the list as code enforcement officers check their areas.
Bateman directed some of her remarks to the Crown Motel, which was located beside her property, calling it an “eyesore.” She said efforts to rebuild after the fires were unsuccessful after people living at the motel “cut electoral wires and stole building material.”
She said she went to court and was told by a judge to clean up the property “so that he could plant turnips on it if he wanted.”
She said another resident who was in court at the same time about a house in the 1700 block of Mulberry was told the same.
Bateman said she had her property cleaned up but the owner of the other property did not and still has not.
“Moon owns a lot of property, but what has he done to try to get this city going?” Bateman said.
In other business Monday, the council removed houses at 3213 Port Road and 1708 Circle Drive from the abatement list, and Brown explained that code enforcement officers recommended that the structures be removed because of the work owners had done to bring them up to code.
In other business, an ordinance that would have established a travel policy for elected officials and city employees was pulled before it could be read for the first time. Alderman Lloyd Holcomb Jr., who was a sponsor, said more work needed to be done on it before the council considers the ordinance.
An ordinance closing an additional part of Duke Street and an alley so that a new business can locate there was read three times and approved. At a previous meeting, the council closed part of the street, but Brumett said the business discovered they needed additional room.
Two resolutions that were not on the original agenda were added, and both were approved without dissent.
One of the two was to accept donations totaling $9,800 to be used exclusively for the Irene Holcomb Bark Park facility. The Simmons Foundation donated $6,000, and Liberty Utilities donated $3,800. The resolution directs the city finance director to ensure that the money is used only for the park.
The other resolution waives the city’s portion of construction permit fees for the aquatic center as construction is to begin in May.
Mayor Shirley Washington said groundbreaking for the facility, which will be located at 10th Avenue and Tennessee Street, will be at 11 a.m. on May 4, and construction is to begin May 14.
Washington also announced that the next town hall meeting will be at 6 p.m. May 23 at the Pine Bluff Convention Center.
She also recognized several members of the Gloves not Guns Boxing Club, including Quincy Means, who will be going to the Golden Gloves National Tournament for the fourth straight time. Means will be the only representative from Arkansas to participate in the tournament.