Pinero updates community at Friday’s Coffee with the Mayor

Published 7:00 am Saturday, August 19, 2017

The Picayune Area Chamber of Commerce sponsored “Coffee with the Mayor” Friday morning for the first time in several months.
“We’re fortunate to have Ed here today, not just as the mayor but as someone involved in the community,” newly installed Chamber Director Terry Farr said.
Beautification of the city was a hot topic that morning as Picayune Mayor Ed Pinero discussed several ongoing efforts to enhance the appearance of the city to boost tourism and growth.
Crosby Commons, which is expected to reopen in October, will be available for a number of events, including those hosted by Picayune-On-Stage, bands, high school groups and movie nights.
Despite being closed for much of the summer, Pinero said he expects the park to receive overwhelming support when it reopens due to the added amenities, including lights along the walking track for those using the park after dark.
The addition of lighting to the park was a safety priority, he said.
Pinero also said the city is working on a façade ordinance and will establish a committee to enhance the look of historic downtown. Although existing businesses will be grandfathered in, so far, Code Enforcement Officer Tom Milar has been able to work with local businesses to clean storefronts and prevent them from becoming eyesores, Pinero said.
The façade plan will embrace the historic areas of the city and spur future growth by preventing future problem areas, he said.
The city is also working to update building codes, taking precautions not to hamper growth or limit grant opportunities, Pinero said.
In terms of growth, he said every business located in the Picayune Industrial Park has expanded in some way since the last Coffee with the Mayor event.
Many of those ideas stemmed from events like these, Pinero said, adding that he hopes to continue the city’s expansion through the public’s input.
“Please don’t stop bringing us ideas. If it’s feasible and we can pull it off, then we’ll introduce it,” Pinero said.
However, the topic of most concern Friday stemmed from flowers being planted in the city. City officials have received numerous complaints from city residents about the misperceived expense of the flowers. However, Pinero said the flowers are grown by the city in greenhouses and planted, weeded and cared for by two staff members.
“I do not apologize one bit for flowers being planted around the city and I will not apologize,” Pinero said.
He said the project started several years ago at Pearl River Central High School and once it grew too big, the work was moved to the city barn.
Pinero said beautification efforts, like the flowers, have sparked interest from other cities, including neighboring Bogalusa.
“I appreciate what my city looks like,” Sen. Angela Hill, who attended the event, said.
Hill said tourists and residents notice when a city takes the time to create an appealing landscape.
“It makes people remember our city and want to come back,” she said.
But the most common concern discussed during Friday’s meeting focused on the excessive negative posts about the city on social media.
“Our city can look beautiful but if one person gets on social media and starts dogging our city, it hurts us,” Councilwoman Tammy Valente said.
She encouraged residents with complaints to approach city representatives directly, rather than posting about it online.
“Our greatest enemy is ourselves,” Picayune resident Mark Stockstill said. “We need to respond to that stuff aggressively…many people in this room have been personally attacked.”
Stockstill also said he’s seen how some people come into the city with a preconceived notion, but are later impressed with the reality of the city’s amenities.
But Pinero ended the meeting on a high note, encouraging residents to become more active in the community by joining local organizations and attending events.
“If you participate, people will follow your lead,” he said.

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About Julia Arenstam

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