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County still eyes land for parking

Negotiations continue between the county and two privatelandowners over property near the courthouse that the county hopesto purchase to ease parking complications there.

The county paid for initial investigative environmental testingon the property, located on the corner of First and Chickasawstreets.

“The tests came back clear, except for some gas tanks,” CountyAttorney Bob Allen said.

A gas station was located on that corner for decades, butsupervisors could not remember how long ago it had closed and beentorn down.

Under Department of Environmental Quality regulations, the tankswould have to be removed before any other construction could occurat the location.

The tests, however, cleared some concerns of possible chemicalcontamination in another area of the proposed land purchase whereCity Cleaners in located. That portion of the property is owned bya second landowner.

The total agreed upon price of the properties is around $50,000,Allen said.

Monday, the board considered bids to remove the tanks. Bidsranged in price from $5,470 to $12,000.

After reviewing the bids, there was considerable discussion onwhose responsibility it should be to remove the tanks – thecounty’s or the landowner’s.

“I think the bottom line is that we ought to buy cleanproperty,” said District Four Supervisor Doug Moak.

The purchase, and bid acceptance, was tabled again torenegotiate and redefine the terms of the sale.

In other courthouse matters, the board tabled a request by DanBrook of the Mississippi Extension Service to negotiate a T1telephone line with BellSouth to the courthouse.

Brook said the line would allow them to enhance their services,including the addition of a video-conferencing system that would beavailable for use by county and city officials. The serviceenhancements would represent a $7,000-$10,000 investment by theextension service.

It would be late fall or December before the videoconferencingsystem would be available, he said, but he was told BellSouth couldhave the line in place in about three weeks.

BellSouth was willing to forego a $1,800 installation fee andsupply the line for $350 a month, Brook said. They would alsoforego a formal contract regarding length of service.

“That’s a substantial savings – the normal rate on those linesis about $20 a mile to the nearest switchboard, which in your casewould be Jackson,” Brook said.

County Administrator David Fields said that while the BellSouthT1 line looked good, the county had just signed a two-year contractin January for a DSL line and were not in a position to consider anew contract.