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Council divided on building park restrooms that remain locked

At the end of Tuesday’s meeting, Councilors for the city of Picayune were divided on a request to make capital improvements at Leola Jordan and J.P. Johnson Park.

When the matter came up for a vote, Councilors Larry Breland  and Lynn Bogan Bumpers along with Mayor Ed Pinero voted to approve the capital improvements, but Councilors Wayne Gouguet, Tammy Valente and Jan Miller Stevens voted against it, meaning the motion failed.

The vote concerning applying for grant funding from the Lower Pearl River Valley Foundation to fund that work at the two parks met with the exact same votes as the previous matter.

Valente said she voted against those matters because she feels that the Council’s focus at the present time should be on Friendship Park, especially Kid’s Kingdom. She said the wooden playground equipment is in a state of disrepair, with nails coming out of wood that pose a hazard to children. She was informed of one little girl who fell while playing at the park and scratched her face on one of those nails.

Gouguet said he opposed the projects, which included construction of restrooms at those parks, because current bathrooms at the city’s parks are locked due to vandalism unless they are rented for an event. Breland contended that without restrooms at those parks, when the parks are rented for functions, there is no place for people to use a restroom.

In a separate matter, Public Works Director Eric Morris presented the Council with a request to abandon a city owned easement near Wisteria Lane. He said that according to his research the easement was established for city utilities, but currently there appear to be no utilities on that property. He added that he does not foresee a need for the city to use that easement for a utility, so he suggested abandoning it.

City Attorney Nathan Farmer said that when a city abandons an easement, the property is split up evenly and becomes part of the adjacent lots, adding that value to the property owner’s taxes. Morris said that he estimates there are six adjacent property owners to the 12-foot wide easement. The Council approved a motion to abandon it.

During the meeting, a request from Jon Pearson for preliminary subdivision approval for phase II of Ridge Crest died for a lack of a second. When the motion failed, several people in the audience cheered.

Work to repair Street B in the city’s Industrial Park came in less than budgeted, requiring a change order to reflect the change. Jonathan Hickman with Dungan Engineering said the estimate for the work was $251,000, but the final price for the repair came in at $237,000. City Clerk Amber Hinton said that the difference will go back to the city’s capital projects fund. The Council passed a motion to approve the change order.

In other business the Council:

— Approved a special use permit for El Patron Mexican Grill, located at 3 Richardson Ozona Rd., to allow the sale of alcoholic beverages with a weight greater than 8 percent, which includes beer and light wine.

— Approved a request to conduct a farmers market at the green space near the Greater Picayune Chamber of Commerce and railroad tracks.

— Approved a conditional use request from Diane Carter to place a mobile home on her property on Neal Road so she can demolish the existing home, which is dilapidated and beyond repair. Code Enforcement Officer Tom Milar said the motion came with the stipulation that the mobile home could remain on the property only so long as Carter lives there.

The next Council meeting will be May 7 at 5 p.m.