It is now illegal for a pedestrian to approach an occupied vehicle on a Van Buren public street.
Members of the city council voted 6-0 to approve an ordinance which calls for a fine of not more than $500 for pedestrian traffic to approach vehicles.
The ordinance states pedestrian traffic approaching vehicles “creates apprehension, distraction and unsafe driving conditions” and “presents a significant safety hazard for pedestrians, motorists and occupants of vehicles and increases the likelihood of traffic accidents and injuries.”
“This is a brilliant move,” said council member Alan Swaim in voting for the ordinance.
Council member Jim Petty questioned whether the measure infringed on joggers who had to run on the streets because of a lack of sidewalks.
“I can’t imagine arresting a runner,” Police Chief Jamie Hammond said. “The prime example is someone walking up to a vehicle and asking for money.”
The ordinance states an exemption for “using the roadway for pedestrian transportation services when no sidewalk or trail is available.” It exempts those doing road and utility work, persons directing traffic, law enforcement officers and emergency personnel.
City Attorney Candice Settle-Beshears said the ordinance was patterned after one the City of Rogers approved after extensive work with the Arkansas Municipal League.
The ordinance also cites a growing number of pedestrian deaths on non-interstate local streets.
Council members also voted 6-0 to contract with Mid-Continental Restoration Co. for masonry repairs to the exterior of the former Darrel Thomas Co. office at 301 Main St., which the fire department currently uses as a training facility.
The cost will be $29,500.
“The city has a better fire department because of the training it has done in this building constructed in the 1800s,” Fire Chief Tim Arnold said. “We have been amazed at the health of the building which has a solid sandstone foundation. The structure repairs being done to the building will ensure it will be good for another 100 years.”
Arnold said he considers the building perfect training for any missions the department may have in downtown Van Buren because it “mirrors” many of the buildings located on Main Street.
The City of Van Buren purchased the 1.9 acres of land with the former Darrel Thomas building in 2016 from Jeff Davis of Davis Iron and Metal for $150,000. Included in the purchase was the property with the building and an adjoining property, mainly concrete slabs from a warehouse facility along Third Street to the old bridge.
In a previous interview, Van Buren Mayor Bob Freemen said the land was purchased with an eye to the future of downtown Van Buren.
Also Monday, the council voted 6-0 to work with the Van Buren School District on bulk recycling available to the public
The city will pay $350 a month for pickup and drop-off of the containers by West River Valley/Green Source Recycling of Clarksville while the school district will be responsible for the locations of the containers, maintaining the grounds adjacent to the containers and ensuring the containers are accessible to the public.
Freeman pointed out the pickup and drop-off fees were free until last year.
John Pope, executive director of Keep Van Buren Beautiful, praised the council for assisting with the recycling program.
“This not only keep items out of the landfill, but kids at our schools get in the habit of recycling,” Freeman said.
The council also:
• Adopted a revised 2017 budget with revenues of $17,555,176.09 and expenditures of $16,819,376.77.
• Amended the civil service regulations for the police and fire departments to adopt current department policies and procedures.
• Purchased two 2018 Chevrolet Tahoes for $63,726 and one 2018 Chevrolet Traverse for $24,398.19 from Superior Chevrolet in Siloam Springs and a 2018 Ram 1500 Tradesman Quad Cab for $23,327 from Breeden Truck Center in Van Buren. All will be used by the police department.
• Set a public hearing for 5:30 p.m. March 26 for abandoning rights-of-way and an alleyway in the Meyer’s Addition between South 13th and 15th streets adjacent to the former Allen Canning Co.
• Approved the final plan for five lots of the Habitat Addition on Kibler Road at South 40th Street. The planning commission recommended the approval on Feb. 6.
• Authorized the removal of certain fixed assets by sealed bid or auction certain items, including a 2011 Ford Crown Victoria sedan, radar unit, two mobile video systems, body mic system, copier, generator, defibrillator, DVD player and input switcher/scaler.