By Ray King

With no dissent, the Pine Bluff City Council on Monday approved a resolution which will permit Mayor Shirley Washington to sign an agreement with the Arkansas Department of Transportation to widen Ohio Street from 11th Avenue to East Harding Avenue.

The resolution calls for city owned property along the street to be donated to the Highway Department which will do the work at no cost.

After the vote, Council member Bruce Lockett, who is chairman of the council’s Public Works Committee, talked about the project.

Ohio Street is a part of Highway 190 which community activists Earl and Ora Mays have fought for a number of years to improve and during the meeting, Ora Mays said that not only will the street be widened but work on the Harding Drain, which is estimated to cost about $2.3 million and work on a drain behind the former Car Mart on East Harding, which is projected to cost more than $5 million will also be done at no cost.

Another resolution which will allow the City to lease the former Bank of America building at 120 W. 5th Ave., to the Saracen Casino Resort was approved 7-0th with Council Member Win Trafford abstaining because the casino is one of his clients.

At a meeting of the Council’s Development and Planning Committee last week, the proposed lease was discussed. It calls for Saracen Casino to pay $2,000 per month and pay all utilities. The casino plans to use the building for human resources and training of prospective employees.

The council approved resolutions removing properties at 314 W.Barraque St., 1710 S. Oakwood Road, 2320 N. Pryce St., 1014/1016 Scull St., and 2107 W. 22nd Ave., from the list of structures that had been declared public nuisances and condemned. Owners of those properties brought them up to code, the resolutions said.