Coffee with the mayor

Published 7:00 am Saturday, June 14, 2014

COFEE TIME: Mayor Ed Pinero Jr. updated attendees of Friday's Coffee with the Mayor on the Picayune's latest topics. Photo by Jeremy Pittari

COFEE TIME: Mayor Ed Pinero Jr. updated attendees of Friday’s Coffee with the Mayor on the Picayune’s latest topics.
Photo by Jeremy Pittari

Updates on the projects and plans within the city of Picayune were shared with attendees of Friday’s Coffee with the Mayor.

Mayor Ed Pinero Jr. covered the natural gas line replacement project, enforcement of sign ordinances, drainage work and the possibility of new business and industry coming to the area.

The city’s natural gas line replacement project is working to remove all of the old cast iron lines and install lines made of a plastic composite. Pinero said the project is expected to cost about $1.5 million. A completion date is not yet available.

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Sign ordinance enforcement is removing improperly placed signs throughout the city. The aim is not to negatively affect local businesses, but rather to ensure unoccupied businesses look presentable and old signs are removed or restored, Pinero said. Focus is also placed on removing temporary signs from right of ways.

Maintaining drainage features moves storm water to streams and creeks faster. Pinero said the work is occurring in the city and the county and those crews have discovered a number of clogs. At times clogs involve basketballs and soccer balls that were possibly washed into drainage systems by storm water. Recently the area has experienced plenty of rainfall events.

“We don’t seem to get the drizzles anymore, we get the heavy rains,” Pinero said.

Pinero also updated attendees on the construction of Highland Parkway. The contractor building the street told the council last week that he aims to have the road complete by summer’s end, weather permitting. Once complete, the city will take ownership of the road a year later.

Efforts continue to boost economic development within the city. Pinero said the city is working with the Mississippi Economic Development Authority and John C. Stennis Space Center to show prospective businesses and industries available buildings in the area. Most prospects entail manufacturers who would employ a maximum of 100 employees, Pinero said. That is because the smaller businesses relocate easier.

The MDA is also helping the city draw in unarmed drone manufacturers, which could utilize the airport. Pinero said the airport is close to the buffer zone, allowing the manufacturer to test the device all the way to the Gulf of Mexico without ever flying over a residential area.

To help ease the transition of business relocation or establishing in the area, Pinero said the Public Works Department is streamlining their permitting process and removing the human element. This is being accomplished by establishing a list of proper steps required to receive a permit and where to go.

“If you’re not from around here you may not know where Chimney Square is,” Pinero said.

FEMA’s recent forgiveness of the city and county’s post Hurricane Katrina loans means $4.6 million will not have to be repaid by taxpayers, Pinero said. That figure reflects the city and county’s loans combined.

If the loans had not been forgiven loan payments would have been $300,000 annually, Pinero said.

After speaking about the success of last weekend’s baseball tournament, and how more are planned, he spoke about plans for the green space on Goodyear Boulevard. While $400,000 in grant funds has been secured, more are being applied for. Pinero said the plans still call for a walking track, amphitheater and fencing.

Pinero said a corporation has indicated they plan to bring two retail companies to Picayune, but the names of those companies have not been released.

In less than two weeks the runoff between Senator Thad Cochran and Chris McDaniel will take place, and Pinero urges every voter to vote. On June 3, only 19 percent of registered voters in this county cast a ballot, which is embarrassing when city officials head to the capital to meet with them about city issues. Pinero said low turnout numbers are noticed by those elected to office.