A construction contract for the $3.1 million Van Buren Senior Center has been approved.

Members of the Van Buren City Council voted unanimously Monday night to award the contract to Crawford Construction Co.

The center will be paid for with proceeds from a 1 percent sales tax voters approved in 2012. It will replace the existing center on Knox Street.

Mayor Bob Freeman pointed out the center will be equipped with a safe room funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and would provide an area of shelter for citizens in times of a disaster.

Freeman also said he was excited to see continued revitalization in the city’s historic downtown.

"Great things are going on," he said. "We want to keep them going."

The council also approved a contract with CEI Engineering Associates of Bentonville for a comprehensive parks and recreation plan. The cost of the contract will not exceed $50,000.

"This will give us a road map to where we are going," Freeman said. "We have never had one before."

Freeman said the 10-year plan in two-year increments will include associated costs.

"We will seek input from citizens," he said. "There are all kinds of opportunities to do something."

Erin Rushing with CEI said the plan will consider existing parks, green spaces and future parks.

"It will look at what we have and what we want," Freeman added.

City Planner Joe Hurst said the plan will increase the city’s changes to receive state grants and other funding.

"To have a plan will open up the door for funding sources," said Dennis Blind of Alta Planning and Design, a company working with CEI on the comprehensive plan.

Aldermen approved an ordinance banning solicitation of donations on city streets and rights-of-way. The ordinance does not prohibit non-profit groups and youth organizations from holding up signs for car washes and cookie sales off the streets or rights-of-way on public or private sidewalks and/or private property.

The council also approved:

• The city’s share of $50,000 for the operations of the Regional Intermodal Transportation Authority.

• Placing a $4,297.57 lien on property at 120 Fayetteville Road and a $7,770.57 lien on property at 11 S. 25th St.

• An additional $15,000 in engineering fees and expenses for the 16th Street and Pointer Trail traffic signalization and improvement project.

• Replacing 10 sets of firefighter bunker gear and boots damaged beyond repair at a Simmons Food fire. Simmons has reimbursed the city $20,224.65 for the damage.