Council holds workshop

Published 4:30 pm Tuesday, April 8, 2008

A workshop was held Monday night by the Picayune City Council to elicit comments from business and community leaders on needs within the city.

With the mayor in attendance, council member Leavern Guy opened the meeting by stating the it would address only concerns about business and progress in the city. He asked that those attending keep that in mind.

The council began the meeting by approving issuance of manual checks and then moved on to the workshop. The purpose of the workshop was to collect ideas and concerns from business and community leaders to take to Jackson as the council requests more funding.

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Council members started by listing the already known problems in the city, including a deteriorating sewage system, leaking fire hydrants and damaged roads. Mayor Greg Mitchell said these problems did not just start, but have been endured by the city for some time as a result of the city’s aging.

When community members listed their concerns, at the top were street conditions, traffic and drainage. Council member Jerry Bounds said every street in Picayune could use resurfacing, especially after the heavy equipment used to clear the downed trees left their mark.

On the business side, Bounds said there was a plan for a technology park. Partners for Pearl River County Director Ron Fine said the problem with building a technology park is that a business ready to move here needs an existing building to move into. However, in order to build the building, there needs to be a business ready to move into it.

Drainage in the city has been addressed at numerous council meetings. Bill Beech said he would like to see drainage in and around the city cleaned out, including Hobolochitto Creek.

Guy expressed his concern for budget constraints on the city. He implied there are ways to bring more money into the city, but did not elaborate.

“We got to have some dollars, and we don’t have that,” Guy said.

City resident Robert Jefferson he said he would like to see the city hold more than one meeting on the city’s needs and do more than just hold meetings.

“We need to do more than talk, we got to get real with one another,” Jefferson said.

Traffic was mentioned many times. Picayune Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Gina Burgess shared her idea to alleviate traffic congestion on U.S. 11. Her solution included making U.S. 11 a one way road with Curran Avenue flowing in the opposite direction. To help with possible congestion in such a venture, she suggested the use of traffic light.

She said she would at least like to see a traffic count on U.S. 11 in the middle of town to present to state legislators to get the U.S. 11 widening project on track again.

Resident Bill Beech said he has noticed the increased traffic on U.S. 11 and how it affects his ability to get around, especially at the intersection of U.S. 11 and Goodyear Boulevard.

“I’m at the point now to get in my old Army truck and push some of them out of the road,” Beech said.

Picayune Main Street president Frieda Dobson asked if there was anything the city could do about the traffic light timing on U.S. 11. The three consecutive lights on the heavily traveled road do not allow for proper traffic flow in the south bound lanes, she said. Miller said those lights are maintained by the Mississippi Department of Transportation. He plans to meet with MDOT’s head traffic engineer to discuss problems in Picayune. Miller said he will invite Dobson and anyone else with concerns to share them with the engineer.

Mike Fitzwillliam with Chevron asked if there was some kind of way to generate more tax revenue for the city. Guy said the city could ask for a one cent referendum on sales tax. Interim City Manager Harvey Miller said that one cent could generate as much as $1.2 million a year.

The council plans to take the trip to Jackson on April 17, or perhaps before. Council members asked all attendees at the meeting to write letter of support for them to take with them to Jackson.