HARRISON, Ark. (KY3) – Harrison City officials opened operations at the new City Hall location on Industrial Park Road on Thursday.
The city has been planning for a new city hall since 2014, when voters approved a half-cent sales tax for fire and police departments, with both services contained within the new facility.
“I think being under one roof is really fantastic right now,” Mayor Jerry Jackson said. “We have the police, the fire department, the city, the water department under one roof. People came in this morning and were really blown away by what we have.
The new building is a 14,000 square foot facility, a large increase in space from the current 3,000 square foot building built in the 1950s.
“It was long overdue,” Jackson said. “We have a situation downtown where this building was obsolete 30 years ago, it has concrete walls, there are five people in an office. It is something that is so necessary for the community.
The new location moves the city offices away from downtown, about two miles north of Old City Hall a few blocks from the plaza. With the county courthouse also moving away from the plaza, residents fear for the future of downtown.
“It has a very quaint small town feel. Obviously, every city needs to grow in order to thrive,” said Maggie LaRock of Selling 726 Realty.
LaRock has lived in Harrison for nearly a year and says she enjoys features like the plaza that complement Harrison’s small-town vibe.
“We’re both from a very small town and we wanted that small town vibe,” she told KY3. “We wanted to live in a very friendly community, and this place they have here is the perfect gathering place for a small town.”
Still, many locals understand the move, with the direction Harrison has taken in recent years.
“Our city follows Walmart everywhere they go, and a few years ago they moved their new location a bit north of here,” local Jerry Peters said. “So the city has developed in that direction. I think the move to this building was necessary and I don’t see it having a negative impact on the place.
Businesses around Harrison Square believe there will be a noticeable difference in the amount of traffic coming into the town centre.
“When that traffic is taken down, being one of the companies here, we’re scared of what it’s going to do,” LaRock said.
City and county officials say future projects like the Creekside Community Center and future mountain bike trials will continue to draw crowds to the area.
“The future of downtown Harrison is the Creekside Community Center,” Jackson said. “It will be a huge draw to the area and especially downtown Harrison.”
Essentially, all parties want to continue to see Harrison grow and maintain the eclectic vibe of the town square through plans for Old City Hall and the historic courthouse.
“As long as we can get another, if not more, businesses into this building, it would help bring traffic, grow the place and nurture business,” LaRock said.
Construction of the Creekside Community Center is expected to begin within the next 30 days unless city council approves updated plans Thursday night.
City officials are operating out of the new building at 118 Industrial Park Road A grand opening is scheduled for September 22.
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