Rolland White, Chair of the Hot Springs Village Public Services Committee, updated the HSVPOA Board on March 16, 2022. He began the presentation by discussing safety. Additionally, White discussed some projects that Public Services is currently tackling, and also touched on future plans the department has in order to keep chipping away at the needed infrastructure repairs.
Public Service Safety
White said, “I am going to talk today about something we do that gets very little attention. It’s going to kind of be ‘Safety Day’.”
Signage and Recommendations
The Public Services Committee charter charges the committee with conducting surveys and making recommendations regarding:
- Speed limits,
- Signage (we have about 7,000 regulatory signs in the Village and about 10,000 street informational signs). It’s a full-time job for a crew of two POA employees just to maintain those, and
- Traffic control devices, such as lines on the streets, stop bars, …speed bumps, things like that.
White said when he first came here, those things got a lot of attention. “It has been going on pretty much under the veil right now, but it’s still going on.” The Committee has continued to solve problems and some of the improved issues are:
- The DeSoto/Carmona intersection used to be our highest problem intersection, but signage seems to have resolved the problem,
- Recommendations for improvements at Baleric/Balboa four-way stop were made after a fatality, and
- Traffic at Ponce de Leon/Balboa has been slowed down. That was the second worst intersection and now it appears to be under control.
The decisions made regarding regulatory signage are not random decisions but are made according to traffic warrants, and standard regulations.
Public Services Committee Working with Police and Fire Departments
Recently we have had a new initiative in this area and have been working with the police and fire departments. We have a subcommittee. They have pointed out areas they feel are problematic, with the most recent being near Waypoint.
You may also notice the new signs and chevrons on the curb on Balboa. The accidents there are mostly speed-related. We hope the signage and the chevrons will slow that down.
We have nine bridges and they have recently been inspected by an engineering company and found to be in good condition. There are some bridge maintenance items that are being addressed.
The dams also require regular inspection by the state of Arkansas. The dams have been found to be in compliance.
The new trash trucks are safer than the old system where two workers rode on the back of the trucks in all weather conditions – icy, snowy, rainy, hot, and cold. The new trash trucks not only provide a service improvement but are a great safety improvement for the sanitation workers.
We have switched from chlorine gas to UV in the sewage plants. The next step at our water plant, later this year, is to begin the conversion from chlorine gas to sodium hypochlorite (NaClO), which is a liquid bleach. The chlorine gas, if released, is a significant hazard.
Public Services Projects
Laser Inspection of Roads
White hopes the laser inspection will provide a satisfactory basis for making good decisions in determining needed road maintenance and also help with the prioritization of repairs. White said, “We used to do this on a three-year cycle, by visual [inspection], by the Public Services Committee.” Results of a visual inspection were spotty and the judgments of committee members were not always in agreement.
Infrastructure Repairs are Being Made
We are working to begin the road program as the weather allows. “The weather has been kind of rough on us lately.”
Contracts for Culverts
“We are preparing to go out for contracts for culverts”, stated White. “The goal for contractors is to complete DeSoto and then our crews will be doing the residential roads.”
“Our first major waterline replacement in years is on Asturias.” There have been over 20 leaks on Asturias in the last few years. “That is going to be a significant milestone to start replacing whole lines, instead of just fixing it when it breaks.”
The next big step at the wastewater plant will be to replace the clarifyer. This project is due to begin later this year.
Tackling Big Challenges One Step at a Time
Right now Public Services is making small steps but is beginning to get into a program as soon as they have the staff. It’s a big challenge.
White said, “I’ll just leave you with something that I used to say to all the people I used to work with when we started a big project, ‘the way you eat an elephant is one bite at a time.’ We’re going to take those bites and continue… Thank you.”
CHERYL DOWDEN, Hot Springs Village People Gazette, March 18, 2022
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