Aldermen consider setting rules for new city park use

Published 7:00 am Friday, September 14, 2018

During Tuesday night’s special Board of Aldermen meeting, Board members discussed construction, traffic changes and the first event request for the use of City Square Park.

Jason Lamb, the city’s engineer, informed the Board that final inspections for City Square Park and the new Public Works facility were completed on Aug. 31. There were some more issues that needed to be corrected at both sites, which were brought to the attention of Stewart Development. The issues at City Square Park were minor and corrected on scene, but the changes to the public works facility will take a little more time to correct, Lamb said.

The Board voted in favor of making payment for work associated with phase one and two of the Public Works facility, with a portion of the retainer fee being held until the minor corrections have been made and approved. Payment to Stewart Development,

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LLC will be $58,160 and payment to Hensley R. Lee Contracting (from phase one) will be $3,000.

The Board also approved the final cash request  payment for the City Square Park. Lamb said this payment will officially conclude all work and close all accounts in regard to construction. The closing of these accounts will allow the city to officially apply for next fiscal year’s Mississippi Development Authority’s Small Municipalities Grant. The total cost for work done included in the MDA request for cash was just over $102,000.

The Board also agreed to set a public hearing for Oct. 16 to discuss the redirection of Railroad Street and East Erlanger Street. Both streets will be changed from two-way streets to one-way. The traffic flow on Railroad Street will be changed to southbound and the flow on Erlanger to westbound.

City Attorney Manya Creel Bryan said the Board will need to vote on a new ordinance during the public hearing. The ordinance will then take effect once it is certain all necessary signs are in place.

Lamb said he reviewed West Erlanger Street after it was brought to his attention at a previous Board meeting that the driving situation was precarious. He said his inspection determined that it would be beneficial for the Board to consider changing the direction of West Erlanger Street to westbound traffic only. He said he would also recommend adding striping to make it clear where vehicles are allowed to park.

“We’ve got to take a look at everyone that travels down that road. There’s going to be a head-on there,” Alderman Russell Miller said. The Board approved a motion to include West Erlanger Street in the upcoming Oct. 16 hearing.

The first request for an event to be held at the new park was submitted by Doyla Ashe with Oak Hill Baptist Church, who wrote a Christmas play entitled “The Town Square.” Her request was to use the new park on Dec. 2 to present the play. Mayor Rossie Creel said Ashe anticipates about 100 people will attend.

Concerns were raised about whether the sod would be ready before the event, especially after how wet it has been recently. Lamb said he was concerned about what kind of equipment would be used for the stage. If the church decided to haul a trailer onto the grass, then it could ruin the sod, he said.

“This is going to open a Pandora’s (box) because any other organization can come in. If another organization wants to come in, you’re going to have to grant them use of it too,” Alderman Kevin Tillman said.

“Isn’t that what we built this for? Community use?” Creel said.

“You might have a Black Panther group that wants to come in and stir up trouble, so you’re going to open a Pandora’s (box) on this,” Tillman replied.

Bryan suggested setting up guidelines that specifically outline how the park is to be used and who will be granted access to it for events. The Board agreed that making standard guidelines would be appropriate and approved a motion to table the discussion until a later date.

The next Board meeting will be Sept. 18, at 5 p.m. in City Hall.