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City continuing battle against dilapidated properties

A dilapidated building on Fourth Avenue has kept Arthur C. Roberts and his neighbors upset for more than 15 years.

Roberts and his neighbors came to last night’s City Council meeting to ask when the city planned to do something about the structure and learned that the building is on a very short priority list for being demolished.

“I know about the property. … I used to live across the street,” said Mayor Greg Mitchell.

Mitchell said the city in recent months has begun a concerted effort to rid Picayune of such buildings. He said the building on Fourth Avenue has been tied up in an estate, making it difficult for the city to take action. However, the city has again declared the property a public nuisance, and if a fireman qualified to check the property for asbestos and other potential pollutants hasn’t already been to the property to evaluate it, he will be there this week, the mayor said.

City Manager Ed Pinero said the city has 118 buildings on its list of properties to be either cleaned up or demolished and is moving as rapidly as possible to handle them. He said the city has been working with several contractors qualified to handle properties with hazardous materials such as asbestos and through agreements worked out without he contractors, the city can use them on a rotation similar to the one the police department has for calling for wrecker service.

“It won’t be long. That building is on our short list,” Pinero said.

Pinero also told Dale Clabaugh on Stemwood Drive that the city is in the process of seeking funds to handle sewage problems along that Woodland Heights street that have caused his home to be flooded with sewage on three occasions.

“I don’t want there to be a fourth,” Clabaugh told the council.

“I assure you that we are looking for ways to make a permanent fix. We don’t want to just do another patch,” Pinero said. “This is a big project. We are looking at grants, bond funds, a loan to handle it. It can’t just come out of our general fund.”

He said the city is looking at other means to give relief to Clabaugh, means that are permanent and can be left in place after the larger project is done. Among those are some form of a containment facility for overflow and an alarm that would allow the Water and Sewage Department to turn on a generator to keep the lift station near his home working among them.

In other matters, the council:

— Approved the consent agenda.

— Recognized Luther Woodward for attaining the age of 101 on Aug. 12, and presented him with plaque. Woodward had missed an earlier meeting at which the council planned to recognize him.

— Approved a request by the Picayune Memorial High School Naval Junior ROTC unit to hold a parade on Veteran’s Day, Saturday, Nov. 11, to honor local veterans.

— Proclaimed Oct. 23-29 as Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Week at the request of Rose of Sharon Church of God in Christ.

— Approved proposals for an Alternative Housing Pilot Program.

— Approved semi-annual bids for mosquito control materials and the bid from Coast Chlorinators for a city fluoride feed system.

— Approved fee waivers for Habitat for Humanity to build a home at 340 S. Haugh.

— Denied a rezoning request by Edward Nixon at 621 Neal Rd. and suggested he bring back his request for a trailer for his daughter as a special use.

— Set Tuesday, Nov. 21, as the hearing date for several properties.

—Approved a grant budget modification for the Picayune Police Department.

— Approved the Ride for Hope motorcycle ride to benefit the Convoy of Hope.

— Went into executive session on contractual matters, on a possible purchase of property and on a personnel matter.

Adjourned.