Council hears construction of new train station should begin today

Published 7:13 pm Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Construction of the new train station should finally begin today while the possibility of a skate park was met with neither good nor bad news.

Mayor Greg Mitchell announced that the official start date for construction of the new train station, years in the making, is today now that the contract to build the station has been signed. The holdup came when the council had to wade through miles of red tape to get the station started. However the grant to build the station was earmarked for the city prior to the current council’s administration.

“We’ve had this grant for a while. It was an earmarked grant so never was we about to lose that grant,” Mitchell said.

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In order to get the grant, the city had to close two railroad crossings, one of which lead to the closing of the crossing on Vaughn Street and the road’s connection to U.S. 11, Mitchell said. Then Norfolk Southern wanted the city to close the crossing on Third Street, but the council declined due to the crossing’s importance to school traffic. Due to those and other failed negotiations the city decided to build the train depot on city property where construction was ordered for today.

Local teenagers discussed building a skate park, possibly at Friendship Park, with the council.

Wilburn Whittington addressed the council once again about that skate park. As the council asked of him during the last meeting, he brought additional information concerning the construction of the park. He estimated the cost to build such a park would be between $150,000 and $200,000. He also brought pictures of Hammond, La., park and his own donation of $1,000 plus another $5 to help build the skate park.

Council member Jerry Bounds made a motion to accept the donation to get the ball rolling on the park. Council member Leavern Guy was cautious about accepting the donation when there has not been a final plan set on the park. Mayor Greg Mitchell said it may be as long as five years before the park is built, if everything works out.

In the end, the council a council vote to accept the donation failed. Bounds, council member Anna Turnage and Mitchell voted to accept the donation, contingent on the formation of a non-profit organization to collect future donations to build the skate park. Council member Donald Parker and Guy voted against it. The motion was defeated since it needed four council members to vote for it, Mitchell said.

Adoption of new by-laws for the Planning Commission were pushed back until the next council meeting. Guy said that he did not want to adopt new by-laws if there are already existing by-laws. The council decided to review the new by-laws more closely and take the matter back up at their next meeting.

The council went into executive session concerning the preliminary subdivision and construction plan for Allison Landing Subdivision Phase II, final plat approval of Vieux Carre Subdivision, possible sale of two plats of land, a contractual matter between the Picayune School District and the Police Department, a contractual matter with trash collection and two personnel matters. Matters concerning Allison Landing Subdivision and Vieux Carre as was the contractual matter with the school district and police department were approved. No action was taken on the personnel matters, City Manager Ed Pinero said. On the land sales, the council approved voiding a tax sale of one parcel while the owner of the other parcel agreed to abandon it.

In other council matters the council:

— Approved rescheduling the public hearing for Stone Treated Materials for the Aug. 7, meeting to ensure the company’s owner has had enough time to prepare.

— Approved a motion to allow a Farmer’s Market at Jack Read park 8 a.m. until 12 noon Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning in August.

— Approved having the Civic Women’s Club Christmas parade on Dec. 3.

— Approved a can shake for the PASA All Star Girl Softball team at the intersections of Memorial Boulevard and U.S. 11, Canal Street and U. S. 11 and Miss 43 and U.S. 11 on 4 to 6 p.m. Friday to collect donations to send the team to the ASA National Tournament in Columbus, Ga.

— Approved allowing Pinero to travel to Washington D.C. July 24 – 26 at no cost to the city to identify future funding opportunities.

The council will meet again at 6 p.m. Aug. 7, in the council chambers.