Aldermen have their own plans for city square park

Published 7:00 am Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Poplarville Board of Aldermen utilized a short agenda Tuesday night to discuss plans for the recently established City Square Park on Main Street.
Engineer Jason Lamb presented the new Board with two initial proposals for the project, which is funded in part through grants from the Mississippi Development Authority and the Southern Mississippi Planning and Development District.
Lamb said surveys are complete and the project is ready to proceed to the bidding stage, pending any changes from the new Board.
Alderwoman Shirley Wiltshire, who serves on the park committee, said the area is currently used by the Poplarville Farmers Market, whose leaders also sit on the planning committee.
Under the grant application, the city proposed construction of commercial space for business incubation, Lamb said.
The concept is based on a park in Pascagoula, he said, where a series of “Katrina cottages” were stationed to house a rotation of new small businesses in the area. Once the business is able to establish a customer base and earn a profit, its owners move out of the park and into their own storefront, Lamb said.
City Attorney Nick Thompson said the city is not necessarily required to establish something similar, but the grant funds must be used for small business incubation, according to the terms of the application.
However, Mayor Rossie Creel said, “us as a Board may have a different vision for what we want to do.”
Another issue yet to be worked out entails leasing the land owned by the railroad.
Wiltshire said that whatever is built on land leased by the railroad has to be torn down or removed when the lease is terminated.
Creel said there might be an option to purchase that land and a small section of land on the north side of Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard from the railroad.
However, Wiltshire and Alderwoman Maggie Smith said they have had problems trying to communicate with railroad staff in the past.
Wiltshire also said that phase II of the project has to be completed by the end of 2018, according to the terms of the grant.
In other news, the Board discussed reducing the city’s limb pick up fees from $45 to $25.
Alderman Tony Smith suggested the change as a way to promote beautification and keep roadways cleaner.
Smith also suggested city employees could pick up smaller loads that could fit in a pick up truck once a week for free.
“I would like to see us do it as a service to the city,” Smith said.
However, Alderman Kevin Tillman said people would take advantage of the program, creating too much work for the two-person crew to keep up with on top of their regular duties.
Smith also asked why the charge couldn’t be added to a customer’s water bill, rather than having them come to City Hall and make a payment in person.
The fee was increased during the previous administration after Public Works Superintendent Sam Hale—who was not present at Tuesday’s meeting—requested it due to the cost of labor and fuel.
Creel said employee salaries should already be covered through taxes and the department’s budget.
Increasing the rate, he said, is essentially adding to a resident’s tax burden.
“In essence you’ve added more of a tax burden on them without calling it a tax and I don’t think that’s the right thing to do,” Creel said. “I do understand charging them, but I don’t think at that cost.”
The Board voted to table the matter until the next meeting, which will be held August 1 at 5 p.m.

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About Julia Arenstam

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