The Walnut Ridge City Council authorized the removal of the small kiddie pavilion at Stewart Park during its meeting on Monday.

Mayor Charles Snapp shared photos showing rotted posts on the existing structure and noted that the pavilion has become unstable.

Snapp said with the council’s approval of removing the existing pavilion, money in the park’s capital improvement funds can be used to replace the pavilion.

He said a new concrete foundation will be poured over the existing one to raise the elevation, and a new awning will be added with anchors bolted into the foundation.

Snapp noted that ongoing work at the park being completed through a grant is going well, and new bids for concrete and fence work came in at a rate that will allow the projects to move forward.

“The park is looking good,” he said.

Also on Monday, the council heard an update from Council Member Ty Callahan after a committee meeting was held regarding ATV use on city streets and the Lawrence County Rail-Trail.

Callahan said the committee is focusing on usage on the rail-trail right now, and reported that Brett Cooper, who is a member of the Rail-Trail Committee is taking it back to that group to look at what is needed, as well.

WRPD Chief Cooksey said ATVs are not supposed to be operated on city streets, and there have been some issues, especially with young children. He said it is not always easy to enforce because often by the time an officer responds, the ATV is gone.

Mayor Snapp said he was in favor of moving forward with addressing the issue, but liked the idea of doing it a little bit at a time. He noted he had received a lot of calls on both sides of the issue.

Callahan agreed saying, “It’s not an issue you are going to solve overnight.”

He noted that there are state laws in place that allow for some usage on streets for those who are disabled or in certain circumstances, but that the city is seeing more and more usage by children who are not even old enough to legally operate the vehicles.

“I’m not against ATVS or side-by-sides, but its about protecting the kids,” he said.

In other business:

Mayor Snapp reported that the equipment repair and materials and contract labor line items in the street department budget were showing more spending at this point in the year than budgeted. He asked the council to allow work to continue and a cleanup ordinance to be done at the end of the year to balance the budget, which has other line items that are coming up with less expenditures than budgeted.

Council members heard an update about a proposed broadband partnership between the City of Walnut Ridge and Empower. Mayor Snapp said changes in ARP requirements may make those funds unavailable for the project, but meetings are continuing with Stephens, Inc., Friday Law Firm and Empower.

The council voted to table an ordinance regarding adding street lights down Hwy. 67B from the Walnut Ridge Fire Station toward the Hwy. 67 intersection. Council members voiced that the cost of $130,000 to $150,000 plus monthly electric bill charges did not seem justifiable at this time.

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