Todd Dew

Magnolia Police Chief Todd Dew talks to the City Council about progress on the renovation of a building in the Harvey Couch Business Park for use as the city's new Police Department location.

On Monday, Magnolia Police Chief Todd Dew, Magnolia Mayor Parnell Vann, and Magnolia Inspector David Nelson issued building and construction updates for Magnolia. Their presentations included the following details:

MPD HEADQUARTERS

The new MPD headquarters at 103 Harvey Couch Boulevard is roughly 65 percent complete, according to Dew, and is expected to be move-in ready around January.

The remodeling work at the former SAU Tech Welding Academy began during the summer.

The renovation will move the base operations of the Magnolia Police Department out of its cramped, aged home at 206 N. Jackson next to City Hall. The downtown location, however, will remain operational as an MPD substation.

New fencing around the Harvey Couch Business Park station has been completed, according to Dew, while electrical and plumbing work is under way.

The computer tech work is also ongoing. Once that is complete, only the painting and flooring process will remain, the police chief said.

Impressed with the new amount of space that the police department will have to work in as a primary station, Dew said that the new building will be a great new home for MPD.

“It’s looking really well,” he said. “For me, it's a little bit overwhelming at the space that we’re going to have out there when it’s done.”

CLICK HERE for more details on the purchase and planning of the new MPD headquarters

CITY FIRING RANGE

The city-owned shooting range on Columbia Road 302 is almost ready for reopening to the public, according to Mayor Parnell Vann.

The facility is tentatively scheduled for a “soft opening” on October 29 or October 30.

The Magnolia City Council in January 2019 voted to temporally close the firing range after a neighboring property owner expressed safety concerns at the facility. The range was previously unsupervised and shots were routinely fired over the berms, hitting trees and other obstacles on a neighboring property.

In July 2019, after months of searching for a new location, Vann announced that the public shooting range would be re-opened at its former site, but only after a major safety overhaul and renovation of the property. The hours would also be limited, the mayor said last year.

Vann said on Monday that the range opening is still contingent on a meeting and tour with the neighboring property owner.

“I’ve talked to him, and he would like to go to look at the work that’s been done before he blesses it,” said Vann.

The Columbia Road 302 firing range now contains a locked gate at the road’s entrance.

“We have done what we physically can do with the equipment that we have,” Vann added. “There’s nothing more that we can do. From there, it’s going to cost us more money than I think it’s worth.”

The mayor also stated that he has spoken to a group that may be willing to build a range in order for the city to transition away from operating the current firing range facility.

MAGNOLIA CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS

New home construction and building projects have been slow in recent months in Magnolia, but work hasn’t stopped completely, according to Magnolia City Inspector David Nelson.

Locally-owned duplex apartments are currently being built on Shady Lane. The development is expected to expand near Bluebird Street to give Southern Arkansas University students more near-campus housing options.

On North Washington Street, a 12-unit small-home development is coming to a close. There is a possibility that another row may be built in the future.

The only new home build in the city was just completed. The home is located in the Regal Row Addition.

Lucy Circle now has updated street lights. The lights are LED bulbs and “really lit up the place,” according to Nelson.

Amfuel has built an updated and expanded employee parking lot near Mallard Street. The lot is a high-end build, according to Nelson.

So far in 2020, the city has seen 18 condemned houses be removed. Of that number, five were removed by the owners themselves. Nine more homes remain on the condemnation list to be removed, according to Nelson. The homes that have yet to be removed are typically held up by utility cut-offs or the waiting process involved in a home’s removal. The process can take up to 90 days or more, according to Nelson, if everything goes smoothly.

A draft of the Garver 2040 Plan has been completed and submitted to the city. A presentation of the plan has been tentatively scheduled to take place at the November Magnolia Planning Commission meeting. The meetings are typically held on the third Monday of each month. If the plan is approved by the Planning Commission, it will come before the Magnolia City Council as an ordinance to be adopted.

The plan includes new zoning and subdivision rules and regulations, as well as revised city sidewalk and street suggestions.

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