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New industrial park wins city’s support

A new industrial park received a unanimous commitment from theBrookhaven Board of Aldermen Tuesday, but how the city will fundits portion of the project remains undecided.

“We’ll determine what the funding is at some future point,” saidWard 4 Alderman Bob Massengill, whose original motion was for thecity to commit up to $2.2 million toward the estimated $4.7 millionproject.

The alderman’s motion was modified to be a commitment inprinciple. Funding, though, was not cited in the resolution ofsupport.

Ward 5 Alderman Tom Smith requested that city support be linkedto action by county supervisors, who have also been asked to pursueup to $2.2 million for the project. Massengill agreed.

“They’re not going to be able to do unless we both do it,”Massengill said.

City and county money would be paired with approximately$500,000 raised by the chamber’s Vision Partnership campaign to buyland and develop the park on a site west of the city.

In bringing up the industrial park issue, Massengill said allboard members understood the importance of a new park. He said avote to commit to the park would be a sign of leadership for theboard to make.

“We need to look ahead and prepare rather than look back withregret,” Massengill said.

Mayor Bill Godbold, however, questioned the need to develop anew park. He said the balance of land in the current park couldstill be used.

“I don’t like moving off and leaving what we’ve got,” Godboldsaid.

Citing a conversation with Chandler Russ, with the chamber ofcommerce, Godbold said the speculative building site could becovered with concrete and used.

“Let’s use what we got. That’s all I’m hollering about,” saidGodbold, who also mentioned an option the city is holding onadditional land near the current park.

The approximately 40-acre spec building site is currently beingstudied for potential environmental contamination. Aldermen saidthey would ask Russ to attend the next board meeting to discuss thebuilding site.

Other aldermen spoke in support of the new industrial park. Ward5 Alderman Tom Smith said the city should do whatever necessary toget industry, and Ward 3 Alderman the Rev. Jerry Wilson said hewanted more jobs.

“If we don’t do something, we’re going to lose our grandchildrento somewhere else,” added Ward 6 Alderman John E. “Buddy”Allen.

Godbold asked what industries were knocking on the door to cometo Brookhaven, but aldermen countered that there is no industrialland to attract them. The mayor also commented about a CopiahCounty industrial park that is vacant except for an automobileparts distribution center.

“If it wasn’t for that one industry, it’d be a total failure,”Godbold said.

Aldermen said Brookhaven was in a different position than CopiahCounty.

Regarding funding in his original motion, Massengill suggestedthe city pursue a $1.3 million bond issue and use $900,000 inremaining repayment money from Wal-Mart for the new industrialpark. Alderman-at-large Les Bumgarner seconded the motion butGodbold balked at the funding commitment.

“You can’t lock us into that kind of money,” Godbold said,indicating that the Wal-Mart money may be needed for an emergencyin the future.

After the motion was modified to remove the fundingdetermination and passed on a 7-0 vote, Godbold stressed that cityresidents would be “double-taxed” with city and county bond issues.City residents pay property taxes to both the city and the countyeach year.

“Let’s be sure to add that,” Godbold said.

Godbold said he was against the motion.

Along with other developments, Bumgarner said the industrialpark would make Brookhaven more attractive.

“With the arts school opening up, it’s a good time to bringpeople to Brookhaven,” Bumgarner said.