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City gets green light for downtown paving project

Downtown Brookhaven could start to have a new look in aboutmonth following Tuesday night’s board meeting discussion of twoprojects for the area.

Regarding long-awaited downtown street paving plans, Mayor BobMassengill said he had received notification from the MississippiDepartment of Transportation that the project could proceed. Withthe notice, the mayor said authority to advertise for bids on theproject was expected within the next 30 days.

Massengill said the city has accumulated more than $511,000 infederal transportation funds, which must be matched by more than$102,000 in city funds. The mayor said that amount was a littlemore than expected, but he did know how far the funds would go.

“At this time, with no bids, we don’t what the costs of theproject will be,” Massengill said.

In addition to street paving, the project also involves handicapaccessibility for downtown sidewalks. Transportation officials havepredicted that could be an expensive aspect of the project.

Also Tuesday night, Massengill presented his downtownbeautification project, a two-phase plan that involves trimmingsome trees and replacing others with street lights.

At around 30 feet in height, Massengill said the Bradford peartrees in some downtown planters had grown too tall and leaves fromthe trees were clogging gutters. He proposed cutting the tops ofthe trees out and leaving eight-10 feet stems.

“They’re going to look bad the first year,” said Massengill,acknowledging an appearance concern.

He said cutting the trees would allow them to bloom back nextspring and the city could re-evaluate the situation then. He saidthe trees could be allowed to continue to grow or replaced withevergreens or street lights under phase two of his plan.

The crape myrtles also need to be cut back and allowed to bloomout next spring. However, since they are less than 30 feet high,they can be handled with proper tree management.

Massengill said the holly and Live oak trees need pruning andcould be shaped into an ornamental design. He said those types oftrees are best for downtown areas.

In an effort to make the downtown area more attractive, phasetwo of Massengill’s plan involves replacing every other Bradfordpear tree with street lights similar to those on the arts schoolcampus. In subsequent years, other streets could be done until allthe downtown area has street lights and lights on poles have beentaken down.

“We would have a unique look for the city of Brookhaven,”Massengill said.

Mentioning some other cities where similar street light projectshave been done, aldermen approved the mayor’s plan. Massengill saidthe initial tree work could start by the end of the month.

Also, Massengill announced MDOT is planning to pave MonticelloStreet between Highway 51 and Highway 84. He said the city will notbe involved in the project, which is expected to begin in the next30 days.

“That’s still another project that will be good for Brookhaven,”Massengill said.