Voting Underway in Conway Bond Rededication Special Election

by Lee Hogan  on Thursday, Sep. 4, 2014 7:21 am  

The proposed Central Landing, a mixed-use redevelopment of the 151-acre municipal airport in Conway, is the focal point of a special election set for Sept. 9 in which voters will decide whether a 1/8 cent sales tax will be rededicated to be used for special bonds to finish various road projects, including various improvements tied to the Central Landing development.

Early voting in a Sept. 9 special election is underway in Conway, with voters considering whether to rededicate a 1/8-cent sales tax for various road projects, including two tied to a large retail development.

Voters will cast ballots on two bonds in the election. The first is for the issuance of refunding bonds, not to exceed $7.5 million, which will cover debts already on the books for the sales tax, currently set to expire in 2022.

The second is for the issuance of capital improvement bonds, not to exceed $21 million, to finance the street improvement projects.

The City of Conway could not issue the capital improvement bonds without first authorizing the issuance of refunding bonds, so the first issue bears just as much importance as the second. If everything is approved by voters, the new estimated bond payoff date is 2044.

The bond would finance three road projects around Conway, including two directly tied to the proposed Central Landing, a mixed-use redevelopment of the 151-acre municipal airport.

Those two projects are an overpass that would cross Interstate 40 to connect the Conway Commons with Central Landing, and a four-lane boulevard connecting Central Landing with Oak Street. The projects are seen as a way to relieve traffic on Oak Street, a major thoroughfare in Conway, and provide access to two major retail centers.

The other project would address the new southern interchange in Conway and its connection to Sturgis Road.

If voters approve the bonds, the city expects to free up enough general street improvement dollars to replace two stoplights on Dave Ward Drive, east of I-40, with roundabouts, which would directly affect the proposed Lewis Crossing shopping center, to be located at the southeast corner of the I-40, Dave Ward Drive intersection.

The completion of the street improvements is even more important for Central Landing, a joint venture by Conway Development Corp. and Jim Wilson & Associates of Montgomery, Alabama. The pending $6.1 million sale of the land is contingent upon the city providing four-lane access from Central Landing to both Oak and Harkrider streets, as reported in February by the Log Cabin Democrat.

The $6.1 million from the pending sale will be used as funding for the new $30 million airport in the Lollie Bottoms.

"I'm not prepared to say that the deal evaporates if this doesn't pass, but it will almost definitely delay things by a year or more, which would be lost revenue the city could not regain," Jamie Gates, senior vice president of the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce, said. "Everyone would be in the position of trying to keep tenants on the line while we come up with alternate financing."

Arguments for the Bond Rededication



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