City receives grant for green space
Published 7:00 am Saturday, June 7, 2014
City of Picayune officials accepted $400,000 in Mississippi Transportation Commission grant funding that will help develop the green space on Goodyear Boulevard.
City Manager Jim Luke said an application has also been submitted for an additional $200,000 from the Lower Pearl River Valley Foundation.
“You could do a great bit of work for $600,000,” Luke said.
The MTC grant requires the city to put up $100,000 in matching funds, said Grant Administrator Christy Goss.
There are several plans for the funds, including installing a walking track, decorative lighting and possibly a stage or amphitheater in the green space where the local hospital used to be.
Mayor Ed Pinero Jr., said the funds will help the city get started on some of the ideas they have established, but they continue to seek more funding to make the project a reality as soon as possible.
The city purchased the property in 2013 for $210,000. Another $45,000 was invested to demolish the old hospital building.
Luke said the city received a deal on the property and demolition, estimating the empty lot could be worth as much as a million dollars.
As city leaders pondered what to do with the property, they took into consideration the dangerous nature of the current walking trail on Goodyear Boulevard, which puts pedestrians close to traffic, Luke said.
The problem is not only the traffic on the road, but also the parking spaces in the median that force walkers and runners to dodge parked vehicles.
This situation helped establish the idea to install a walking track at the green space. While the entire project is not funded yet, the approved grant funds from the Mississippi Transportation Commission provide the money to start some of the work, Luke said.
Plans for the area also include a wrought iron fence around the green space, which would not only protect children playing in the area from traffic, but provide regulated entry points special events could utilize to collect entry fees, Luke said.
Benches, litter receptacles and markers denoting the historic nature of the area are also planned.
Since a stage and walking track are planned, Luke feels bathrooms should be constructed on the site. At some point, if Picayune on Stage decides to hold plays there, Luke would like to construct a dressing room actors could use for costume changes.
Even though a public comment period was held recently, the city is still accepting input on what the community would like to see. Comments can be emailed to city hall, or written statements can be dropped off at the display of the plans located at the Intermodal Transportation Center, Luke said.
Landscaping may provide a chance for citizens to purchase memory trees, although the details on that aspect are still in the works.
Goss said the funds will be issued to the city after they complete and submit a memorandum of understanding along with other essential paperwork.
While there are future plans for the site, it also has a rich history, Luke said. In 1922 the first high school football game was played at that location, and before the city was officially named Picayune, the first post office was located there. The site was also a staging area for horse drawn wagons heading to Columbia when the creek was flooded, Luke said. Nearby, in the adjacent lot, stand two oak trees; one is 225 years old, while the other has been around for 175 years, Luke said.
“The mayor, city council and my vision for the green space is to improve the quality of life for our community for years to come,” Luke said in a written statement. “For our children and our children’s children.”