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The city board unanimously approved a significant development permit during their meeting on Tuesday night that will allow for Ability Tree to begin construction on a new special-needs care facility.

The new facility will be located on the 1.57-acre vacant lot in the 2300 block of East Tahlequah Street, an area that was rezoned to General-Institutional earlier this year in order to prepare for its construction. It was designed by Harrison French and Associates, an architecture and engineering company located in Bentonville, Ark. The project is expected to be finished in July 2019, according to the Ability Tree website.

Some of the facility's features will include a fenced-in playground in the back, parking spaces to the north and east of the facility and a single-loop driveway for parents or guardians to drop off their kids, according to a city staff report. Due to its proximity to the high school, the nonprofit has also said that they will make sure that their pick-up and drop-off times vary with the high school's in order to prevent unnecessary traffic congestion.

The new facility will be 9,560 square feet, allowing Ability Tree to serve four times as many kids as they currently are, said Ability Tree Founder Joe Butler. It will also allow for the nonprofit to provide families in the area a greater amount of opportunities for "temporary rest" time.

Temporary rest times are time periods on a given night or day in which parents and guardians of special needs children in the community can drop their kids off for a few hours and take a break tending to them, Butler said. The reason that this is necessary is that of all of the obstacles families of special needs children have to overcome, Butler said that one of the hardest is not having time to rest or take a break from providing care for them.

Currently, the organization's resources are only sufficient to be able to do this for each family about once or maybe twice a month, but that number will increase to three or four once the facility is completed, Butler said. The organization will also be hiring one or two additional staff members and is continually seeking out help from volunteers, he said.

Board members were enthusiastic about the project.

"I work at a sheltered workshop for the physically disabled and handicapped folks and they get a lot of special attention and they have their own jobs and (so) I think there is a need for a facility like this for the younger ones," said Frank Johnson, Ward 3 director. "It takes special people to be willing to work with people like this and that must be happening or they would not (be) proposing this facility. It will be really good for Siloam because we do have people here in Siloam that need a facility like this so I am all for it."

The board took the following additional actions:

• Unanimous approval of a quit claim deed for about .4 acres of property located east of the rodeo grounds. This decision came after the Siloam Springs School District reached an agreement with the Elrod family to purchase 12.66 acres for a sports complex. Surveyors found the actual property line was 26 feet to the west of the current fence line.

• Unanimous approval of a contract that will allow for the construction of new restrooms for the kayak park at a cost of $71,613.53. There will be one unit that serves as a unisex facility for families as well as another unit that will consist of the standard, male-female facilities.

• Unanimous approval of an ordinance to vacate or close certain rights-of-way on property belonging to the school district located near 200 W. Tulsa St.

• Unanimous approval to place an ordinance on its first reading that would rezone a 1.13 acre property located at 626 N. College St. from R-2 to P-D (Planned Development). The item will be revisited at the next meeting and its final approval is subject to the condition that its applicant, Chord Properties, acquire a lot consolidation permit prior to beginning construction.

• Unanimous approval to place an ordinance on its first reading that would rezone an area located at 850 S. Wright St., which is also 200 W. Tulsa St., from R-2 to G-I (General Institutional). The item will be revisited at the next meeting and its final approval is subject to a condition recommended by the planning commission during their July 10 meeting that requires the applicant, the Siloam Springs School District, to file a lot consolidation plat prior to the rezoning taking place.

• Unanimous approval to table discussion regarding a resolution regarding a final plat development permit for a property located between the 2200 to 2400 block of N. Carl Street to the next board meeting on Aug. 21. The reason for tabling the issue is due to the fact the applicant, The Roth Joint Revocable Trust, needs more time to fulfill two necessary conditions that were mandated by the city.

• Unanimous approval of a significant development permit that will allow for the construction of seven, multi-family, townhome-style dwelling units on a vacant lot located between the 1000 and 1100 blocks of S. Holly St.

• Unanimous approval of a resolution to set a hearing date for Sept. 4, to deliberate the closing of an existing right-of-way, an alleyway that runs east to west and is located between North Elm Street and North Garrett Street, north of West Benton Street and south of West Tahlequah Street.

• Unanimous approval of a resolution that grants an easement for storm sewer for Simmons Food's Plant One, which is located on Hico Street. This was essentially a housekeeping item, as the storm sewer is largely on Simmons' private property but extends into a city right-of-way on Hico Street; by allowing Simmons' access to the right-of-way, they can work on the sewer in the future if the need arises, thus avoiding costs to the city.

General News on 08/12/2018

Print Headline: City formally approves construction of new Ability Tree facility

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