Excitement marked the mood at the Fairfield Bay City Council meeting Monday, April 10, as Mayor Paul Wellenberger presented several initiatives to the council which, he said, characterized “big plans” for the area.
“This will be one of the most exciting meetings we’ve ever had,” Wellenberger said at the meeting start.
Wellenberger, during his report, one of the final reports as the council heard from various city agencies and offices, was enthused about three particular items.
The first was the ongoing negotiations with an organization making continued plans to build a hotel in Fairfield Bay.
The lack of a hotel at Fairfield Bay has been a regular topic at council meetings, as the lack of hotel space was limiting bookings into the Fairfield Bay Conference Center, in turn limiting revenue to the city. The group he was speaking with which was interested in building a hotel (Wellenberger was tight-lipped regarding specifics about the group in the public meeting) projected building at least an 80 room hotel, which would “triple the amount of overnight stays in Fairfield Bay,” Wellenberger said. Original hotel projections in earlier meetings were for a 57 room facility, which the current group classified as being “too small,” Wellenberger said.
The matter is still in negotiation, however, including investment required by the city before an agreement is reached and an analysis as to how those investments would be offset by additional revenue brought in by overnight visitors. Wellenberger also advised that questions remained as far as long terms plans for a hotel, and how it would integrate with the existing conference center.
As it is still in negotiation, Wellenberger cautioned the council and tempered the optimism with the statement, “We don’t have one yet, people.”
The second item, also in the mayor’s report, was negotiations with a light manufacturing facility. The facility would bring 50 jobs to the area. Here again Wellenberger was tight-lipped about specifics, only that he was working with the principles who were searching the area to find a large enough property for their investment.
Finally was the recently passed law which removes some restrictions, allowing ATVs to use roads in order to access trailheads. In light of the trails around Fairfield Bay, Wellenberger said to the council, the increase in tourism to the area is expected to grow. He thanked specific members of the council, notably Don Bailey, for their work during the recent legislative session to lobby for bills and language within bills which provided opportunity to Fairfield Bay.
Included here was the recently-passed law which removes taxes on military pensions, putting Arkansas on a level field with surrounding states and making a retirement-friendly areas like Fairfield Bay all-the-more attractive to military retirees.
In other council matters:The police department has signed a mutual aid agreement with Cleburne County.Dispatch processed 737 calls in March, 569 being actual emergenciesFire Department recently purchased $5,000 in hoses, and has constructed racks for cleaning hoses to provide longer life.EMS has a new ambulance, due in Thursday, April 13. It was currently in Batesville getting radios fitted.Owner claims and revenues from fines were both up at the animal shelter.The board approved a recommendation by Zoning for a new snowcone stand, being placed near the old Fairfield Bay Autocare facility.The concrete plant is under new ownership.The grant-provided solar-powered recycling equipment is due for delivery April 22.