story by Marla Cantrell
When the Mitsubishi plant comes to Chaffee Crossing, Arkansas Oklahoma Gas Corp. will be ready.
At Thursday’s (April 22) meeting of the Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority, the board approved AOG’s request for additional gas line easements, which will extend certain lines and ensure backup service for the company’s industrial clients.
“We have adequate service there right now, but should anybody ever cut the lines it would be better for us and for them to have another way for the gas to flow,” said AOG President Mike Callan.
Ivy Owen, executive director of the FCRA, said officials from Mitsubishi should break ground on the wind turbine plant before the end of this year and begin production by the first quarter of 2012. The Japanese company will hire a small administrative staff during the construction process and will operate out of an office on Chaffee land. Mitsubishi is expected to invest $100 million on the project and provide jobs for 400 local workers.
The FCRA is filing a $291,000 grant application with the Environmental Protection Agency to install a 14” water line. The grant requires 45% in matching funds. Owen will meet with Fort Smith officials to discuss how to fund the additional cost.
“I don’t know how the 45% match will work yet,” Owen said. “We could do some in-kind funding. I’m sure we could do some of the work ourselves. We’ll just have to meet and work out the details.”
The new water line would tie into the existing line on Taylor Avenue and extend to Custer Boulevard. Owen called it “priority one” for the future development of Chaffee.
In other business, the board approved a resolution annexing 25 acres of industrial property on Planters Road into the Fort Smith city limits. Ray Gosack, Fort Smith’s deputy city administrator, said the tract was inadvertently overlooked when the land was first conveyed.
Fifty-five acres of Chaffee land is being transferred to Barling for a park and a new city complex. Utility work has begun on both pieces of property. The 50-acre Barling River District Park will include several walking trails. Preliminary plans for the five-acre Barling Municipal Complex show offices for the city’s administration, as well as the fire and police departments.
The board also approved hiring Coy Callahan to serve as an administrative assistant for Janet Menshek, the FCRA’s director of finance. His starting salary is $28,000 per year.
“We’re taking in more money, we’re having more sales for her to keep up with,” Owen said, justifying the hire. “She (Menshek) is working 10 or 11 hour days and even on the weekends.”
Stonebrook, a new subdivision proposed by Sagely and Edwards, was approved after the design review committee made several amendments to the site plan, including access to the nearby Ben Geren Park. The houses range in size from 1,625 to 1,720 square feet.
“We only have one chance to get this right,” Owen said. “The land reuse plan is very important to us. We want to make sure as we develop down Massard, which is where this is, that we do it right.
The next board meeting is scheduled for May 20.