Council delays water tower decision

Just off Highway 265, between Mission and Huntsville Road, there’s a neighborhood called Hyland Park with streets that meander along and up a hillside. On Tuesday night, a healthy dose of neighbors from the Hyland Park area filled the pews at the administration building for a Special City Council Meeting, because a water tower with the capability of holding 500,000 gallons of water is proposed for Lot 22 of that neighborhood.

Actually, it might be helpful to back up a few (35) years.

In 1974, when the particulars of the Hyland Park Phase II development were being decided, Lot 22 was designated as a water storage site.

Then, fast-forward to 2005, when the Arkansas Heath Department said the Mount Sequoyah area, “does not have adequate storage for the water demand,” neither for domestic-use purposes nor for fire-fighting water.

So, the Sewer Committee in August of 2008 unanimously determined that an elevated water tank on Hyland Park’s mountain was necessary and advisable, even amid protestations from the Hyland Park Home Owners Association.

To be most effective, the new tank must be located 1,815 feet above sea level and separate from the current tank serving the area, for balance, David Jurgens, the city’s utilities director, told the City Council on Tuesday night.

With a slideshow, Jurgens explained that Lot 22 would be the least costly building site for a new storage tank and would require the least amount of piping. The problem, he said was that Lot 22 is “effectively in the front yard” of someone’s home.

Then, the meeting was opened to public comments.

Brent Smith approached the podium as a representative for the Hyland Park Home Owners Association.

Smith said the water tower would give Fayetteville the distinct “impression of an industrial city,” and when Hyland Park was developed, the developer, Jim Lindsey, never intended Lot 22 as a city water source, but only to maintain water pressure for that development.

“It goes against all the rules of urban development, civic mindedness and American values,” to put the water tank in an “established, stable neighborhood,” Smith said.

Then, Jim Waselues stepped up to the microphone.

He introduced himself and his family as the ones most affected by the proposed water tower because the tank would be in his front yard, he said.

Because the Hyland Park Home Owners Association had declined to pursue a “land swap” deal to trade Lot 22 for an alternate water tower site, Waselues said he had taken it upon himself to find a solution to the problem.

Though he said he couldn’t discuss the specifics of his plan because agreements were still pending, Waselues asked the council to hold off on a vote until he could wrap it up and present it to the council at the next meeting.

Next up was Bill Clark, saying the Hyland Park Home Owners Association would seek litigation if the city moved forward with the plan on Lot 22.

In the end, the council decided to table the issue until the next regularly scheduled City Council meeting (June 16). But, before adjourning, Mayor Lioneld Jordan interjected, affirming that a final decision would be made at that meeting.