By CRAIG HALL
A special meeting of the Heavener City Council on Thursday to put three acres of city property as surplus turned into an extensive discussion.
Council members Gail Nichols, Joey Clubb, Melinda Ballantine and Kathy Guinn were present for the meeting. Mayor Troy Dyer could not attend.
The land, just to the south of the Heavener Memorial Park Cemetery, is going to be used as a commercial property development on the nearly three acres.
Plans are for the business to make a $2 million investment on the property, adding 40 employees and estimates call for 50 percent more sales tax to benefit Heavener.
Negotiations with the business are still ongoing and no name has been released. Soil samples and surveys are currently being done on the property.
With the project butting up to the cemetery, there was concern on what effect this would have.
Nichols recommended the property be fenced on at least two sides to prevent trash and debris from entering the cemetery. There will be an entrance and an exit to the new development aside from the current entrances to the cemetery.
Also, the business will use the road next to the storage buildings for deliveries to the loading dock. Max Roberts of Dowden-Roberts Funeral Home along with Cliff Vinson of the Heavener Cemetery Association were also worried how this will impact the cemetery.
The main concern was the pavilion at the cemetery. Currently, the pavilion is not used because of the lack of a road to the facility. Plus, because the pavilion has not been used and no upkeep has been done, the facility cannot be used.
Since the new building will be close to the pavilion, the general consensus was to try and move the pavilion to a new location on the cemetery. Roberts suggested the pavilion be made similar to the one at the cemetery in Poteau.
The pavilion is approximately 800 square feet.
Roberts also suggested the city try and do something about the roads at the cemetery. Council members suggested the cemetery association use some of their funds for this, only to be informed that the association cannot touch the principle of the money.
The cemetery association operates on interest earned on the money along with $500 the city gives them.
The council also had a concern on construction during funerals held or interments at the cemetery and city manager Larry Jones said that would be addressed.
Heavener will not actually be able to use the proceeds from the sale as it will be put back into infrastructure improvements including water, sewer and other improvements. In addition to the jobs and increased sales tax, Jones said the new facility will have increased property taxes which will benefit the Heavener school district.
The new building will not have access to or from the cemetery.
The council did approve placing the property as surplus.