Town hurries to be ready when Express guests arrive 10/23/2015

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 23, 2015

Town hurries to be ready when Express guests arrive

By John Howell
“It’s going to be ready,” City Engineer Blake Mendrop told Batesville’s mayor and aldermen Tuesday about construction work underway on the Batesville Square.

Mendrop’s prediction tied in with an assorted items of city business related to public and private preparation underway for the Polar Express Train Ride scheduled to begin November 20.
Tuesday’s meeting included a public hearing that will allow the city to issue, with mayor and aldermen approval, conditional use permits for temporary business activity and structures without additional public hearings.

“We’ve gotten a lot of inquiries to our office,” Batesville Main Street Manager Colleen Clark said, asking questions about types of vendors, locations and costs.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“The way I understand it, after this (hearing) is done, the vendors would have to come to the city board,” Code Administrator Pam Comer said, bypassing the Planning Commission.
“The location’s going to be the issue,” Comer said. “We don’t want these people to take up parking places; we’d rather these people go into the buildings.”

“We’re going to have a parking nightmare here,” Alderman Stan Harrison said.
Clark and city officials discussed the anticipated number of visitors and how many visitors per vehicles could be expected.

“Have y’all thought about running a shuttle service?” Police Chief Tony Jones asked.

“They’re talking about even looking at a trolley,” Alderman Eddie Nabors said.

“They’re coming this week,” Nabors said, referring to Polar Express representatives. City officials should anticipate a “work session” meeting with rail officials to assist with planning for parking, Nabors said.

The Ward Four Alderman also said he was concerned about the availability of “quality food” in sufficient quantities to meet visitor demand.

Comer said that several food vendors had expressed interest in renting vacant buildings to sell food prepared off-premises and drinks.

In other business related to the Public Square and the Polar Express Train Ride:
• Aldermen voted 4-0 to allow Dustin and Emily Tidwell to move their antique mall into a building on the Square owned by Alderman Harrison. Harrison recused himself during their appearance and subsequent vote;
• Aldermen also approved improvement proposed for a building on the Square owned by Mike Fudge;
• Four applicants seeking loans from the newly-created small loan program through the city’s revolving economic development fund were approved with little discussion: The Sweet Shop, C. H. Flint and Son, Dale Copeland, Jeweler and Drake Welding. North Delta Planning and Development District reviewed the applications and recommended their approval.