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Water utilities help with economic development

Posted on October 25, 2016

By Tia Lyons
El Dorado News Times

EL DORADO — The El Dorado Water Utilities is working closely with the city of El Dorado and Union County to help provide infrastructure for proposed economic development projects in the area.

Members of the El Dorado Water and Sewer Commission heard updates Thursday on the status of work that is being done for the $80-plus-million development of an arts and entertainment district in Downtown El Dorado and an prospects that are looking to move into the Champagnolle business park.

Mark Smith, general manager of the EWU, said regular meetings are going well with the city’s Department of Public Works and El Dorado Festivals and Events, Inc., on the arts and entrainment project.

Festivals and events is repurposing the Rialto theater, the Griffin Auto building and the McWilliams into a variety of performance/entertainment, art and dining venues.

The project is concentrated in the area of Cedar, Jefferson, Locust and Hill and will include the addition of amphitheater, openair market, and a children’s playscape.

Smith said the EWU has purchased all of the water and wastewater piping that will be needed to cover five to six blocks to accommodate the additions and features of the new district, including water components for the children’s playscape.

The cost to utility is in the $100,000 range, Smith told water and sewer commissioners.

“Since we already bought it, were going to turn it into the (El Dorado Works Board) to see if they’ll reimburse us because even though we haven’t installed it yet, it’s a sizable expense,” he said.

The utility is partnering with the city and county to install water and wastewater lines and other implements for the Champagnolle business park project.

The infrastructure includes a water main extension with two separate water lines, an eightinch line for fire protection and a two-inch line for potable water, a two-inch, pressurized sanitary sewer main, grinder station and two large fire hydrants and a smaller hydrant.

In August, the El Dorado Works Board and El Dorado City Council approved $79,100 to cover the cost of the project.

The work will accommodate two prospects — a new headquarters for an existing business and a national distribution company (lighting and plumbing fixtures) with plans for a 25,000-square-foot facility that will start with approximately 15 employees, with an eye toward future expansion — and allow for future expansion in the park, which is just north of the County Shop road in the area of the park where the prospective businesses are looking to set up shop.

Smith said the county has also agreed to dig the trenches for the EWU to lay the water and sewer lines and return to cover the pipes.

Hawkins-Weir Engineers, Inc., is assisting with the basic drawings and plans to submit to the Arkansas Department of Health, he said.

Of the distribution warehouse, Smith said., “They need pressure flows because of the fire suppression system that will be in the building.”

He said the warehouse will hold lighting and plumbing fixtures.

Mike Dumas, interim president and chief executive officer of the El Dorado-Union County Chamber of Commerce, said the warehouse will serve as the company’s distribution center for South Arkansas and Louisiana.

Smith told commissioners.

He said the company submitted this week information that contains a timeline and steps for the work to be done.

“The thing is, we’re only going to have a week to put that pipe in. It’s going to be tight. It works on paper, but there are any number of things that could cause a delay in that project,” Smith said.

Dumas said the business deal has not yet been finalized for either prospect to move into the Champagnolle business park.