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MDOT grant helps city with Multi-Modal plan

A $75,000 grant from the Mississippi Department ofTransportation will help the city access almost $4 million infederal funding for a proposed Multi-Modal Transportation Facility,engineer Hugh Long told city officials Tuesday.

The MDOT funds will allow the city to pay for architect work,environmental studies and other preliminary activity that must becompleted before the city can start using the federal money, Longsaid during the meeting of the mayor and board of aldermen.

“This would get you into the federal money without you spendinganything,” said Long, who works with City Engineer Carl Ray Furr’sEngineering Associates firm.

Long said a contract between MDOT and the city is in its finalreview. The state money will be available after the contract iscompleted and signed.

Long said the state funds do not require any matching cityfunds.

The federal funds require a 20 percent city match. Long said thevalue of the land and buildings in the proposed North RailroadAvenue facility location can count toward the city’s matchrequirement.

Following Long’s presentation, aldermen approved getting thebuilding and land appraised. Recommendations for using the statefunds include paying Engineering Associates for $45,000 for Phase Iand II environmental study work and a property boundary survey andpaying $30,000 to architect Michael Barranco for preliminaryplanning on the proposed facility.

Long also updated city officials on other pending projects. Hesaid the Whitworth Fire Loop and Brookhaven High School drainageproject are nearly completed.

Regarding another project, Long said engineers had sent railroadofficials a “conceptual plan” for an underpass at the closed WarrenAvenue bridge location. Long cautioned, however, that there is nomoney currently available for the project.

“At this time, there is no money in (the Local System BridgeProgram) to do this project,” Long said, adding that fundsavailable under the state bridge repair program had been committedelsewhere.

Ward 3 Alderman the Rev. Jerry L. Wilson, who has lobbied hardto replace the bridge, seemed perturbed at Long’s news. He brieflyleft the meeting after hearing the engineer’s comments.

“The way I look at it, it just wasn’t important,” Wilson saidafter returning.

In other business during Tuesday’s meeting, aldermen went intoexecutive session to discuss the city’s pending annexation lawsuit.A chancery court hearing on the city’s annexation request isscheduled for March 4.

Following the closed meeting, aldermen voted to have annexationconsultant Mike Slaughter prepare a preliminary redistricting planfor alderman ward lines. He will prepare plans for the current sixwards and for four wards.

“We’re going to do it both ways,” said City Attorney JoeFernald.

According to the latest census, the city’s population is under10,000. Under the city’s form of government, cities withpopulations under that total are to be represented by fivealdermen, four elected of which are elected from wards and one atlarge.

If annexation is approved, the city’s population would be backover 10,000 and the city could keep the current seven aldermenstructure. The city is currently divided into six wards and onealderman is elected at large.

The city’s next election are scheduled for 2005. Fernald said anannexation must be approved through the court system and be fullyin place in order to maintain the six ward system, otherwiseelections would have to be held under a four-ward system.

“We don’t want to get caught without a viable redistrictingplan,” Fernald said. “Prudence would at least dictate that weprepare for both options.”