Council authorizes hospital commission to buy adjacent property

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Eureka Springs Hospital Commission

can officially move forward with

the plan to renovate the hospital.

On Monday night, the Eureka Springs

City Council heard from the commission

about an ordinance allowing the hospital

to acquire three lots of land adjacent to it.

Alderman Terry McClung said he didn’t

support the purchase, saying the property

isn’t worth the asking price of $141,400.

“The expense of trying to build on it

is going to be nearly cost-prohibitive just

due to the terrain,” McClung said.

Alderman David Mitchell moved to

approve the ordinance on its first reading,

and everyone but McClung agreed

to do so. Mitchell then moved to approve

it on second and third readings by title

only, with Mitchell, Melissa Greene,

Bob Thomas, Kristi Kendrick and Mickey

Schneider voting for it and McClung

voting against it.

Schneider moved to invoke the emergency

clause to finalize the ordinance in

one night, and Kendrick asked for the

reason behind the urgency. Mayor Butch

Berry said the commission planned to

close the sale on Wednesday, Feb. 28,

and needed the ordinance to be completely

approved before then. Commission

chairman Michael Merry agreed,

saying the commission will need to finish

a survey on the property before its

architectural firm can continue working

on the project.

“It will be necessary for us to either

move forward with this or decide not to,”

Merry said.

“But you have it under contract,”

Kendrick said. “So you have control of

the property. You could proceed with the

survey at this time without ownership of

the property.”

Commission treasurer Barbara Dicks

said the closing date has been set for six

weeks. The commission is ready to finalize

the sale, Dicks said.

“If we postpone it … it would postpone

it for another month or two,” Dicks

said. “What is your concern that it’s going

so fast?”

“It’s vacant land, it’s currently not being

used, you’re not going to use it right

away, and so why are we quickly circumventing

the normal process which would

permit constituents to object to this or for

council to change their mind?” Kendrick


“It is not a vacant land,” Dicks said.

“There is a home on it and a road on it.”

Kendrick asked if the home was occupied,

and Dicks said no.

“And what will happen to the home?”

Kendrick asked.

“You know that’s later,” Dicks said.

“That’s my point,” Kendrick said.

“There are no immediate plans for this. I

do not understand the urgency.”

Schneider said the public has been

aware of the renovation for a while now,

saying no one has objected to the purchase.

“I don’t like using the emergency

clause unless we have to, but this being

related to land and people, it’s better to

just get it done,” Schneider said.

Mitchell agreed.

“I feel strongly that this council

should go ahead, even though I don’t

like using the emergency clause either,

and let’s wrap this up, let them close on

this piece of property and let’s just get it

done,” Mitchell said.

Dicks said she was concerned the purchase

wouldn’t go through if the council

decided to wait to finalize the ordinance.

“We had a closing date written up of

the 28th, and if we go and say, ‘Sorry,’

well, they can change their mind,” Dicks


“I’m a real estate attorney,” Kendrick

said. “I understand. You’re in too much

of a rush.”

Greene said she understood where

Dicks was coming from, and Dicks said

there’s too much risk with extending the

closing date when it comes to others who

might be interested in the property.

“Now that they know we want it, they

could certainly go in and overbid us,”

Dicks said. “I mean, it’s real estate.”

“We both understand real estate,”

Kendrick said.

“It makes no sense to not let them

finish the deal based on the date on the

contract,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell asked for a vote, and the

council unanimously agreed to invoke

the emergency clause.

The council moved on to discuss a

proposed ordinance for paying down the

city’s bond payments, and Kendrick said

she was concerned about a section of the

proposed ordinance saying the city could

use additional funds other than the I&I

fee to pay the bonds.

“That really sounds as if all revenues

from the water department are going to

be applied to the bonds,” Kendrick said.

“I think the way it is written is way too


City attorney Tim Weaver said that

section of the proposed ordinance is only

meant to provide for unforeseen circumstances

in the future.

“There’s always the possibility of

funds coming from another source we

haven’t yet anticipated,” Weaver said.

Finance director Lonnie Clark said

the proposed ordinance doesn’t include

a specific amortization schedule because

it’s impossible to know how much the

I&I fee will generate each year, and Berry


“The amortization would not completely

be accurate,” Berry said. “We’re

trying to keep this simple. The ultimate

goal was to be sure this was paid off by

this date … and tying this to any amortization

could possibly present some issues

down the road.”

The council took a five-minute break

for Clark to consult Weaver. Upon returning,

the council deferred the proposed

ordinance until its next meeting.

Also at the meeting, the council approved

a proposed ordinance regarding

the diversion of grant funds on its first

reading and agreed to proceed with a

project for the city’s storm water drainage

repair near Flint Street Fellowship.

The council’s next regular meeting is

scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, March 12,

at The Auditorium.

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