By Ray King

With no dissent, the Pine Bluff City Council on Monday voted to allow the Economic and Community Development Department to exercise eminent domain to acquire easements needed for a city project.

The project is called the Grant Street Multi-Trail project and Council Member Bruce Lockett, chairman of the Economic and Community Development Committee explained it to Deltaplex News.

According to the resolution, some owners of property on which the easements are needed have rejected giving the city the easement or ignored efforts to contact them.

An exhibit attached to the resolution said 22 parcels are needed to complete the easement and are owned by 20 different individuals.

Five owners have donated the needed easement, another five have agreed on a settlement  amount and two others are completing the settlements, meaning eight properties will require city action. Three of those property owners live out of state, according to the list provided by Economic and Community Development.

The council also approved a resolution which will compensate the Convention Center for the use of their facilities since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.. The agreement provides that the city will pay a total of $186,000 which will cover insurance premiums for property insurance. Seven of the eight council members voted to approve the resolution and Council Member Glen Brown Sr., voted present, which goes down as a no vote.

A 15-year-lease agreement between the City and Debra Allen, d/b/a/ First Ward Living Grace Food Pantry for the former Fire Station on Commerce Road was also approved.