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City gets $500K grant for new sewer line

City priorities and improvement efforts, including agrant-funded sewer project for north Brookhaven, highlighted alengthy meeting of the mayor and board of aldermen Tuesdaynight.

Mayor Bob Massengill said the city has received a $500,000federal grant to install a new sewer line in the area near Highway51, Field Lark Lane and the Kids’ Kingdom off Industrial Park Road.The federal money must be matched with $400,000 in city money,which the mayor said has been set aside for the project.

The project would involve new sewer line from the end of a 2002sewer improvement project that ended near Kids’ Kingdom to a liftstation on Field Lark Lane. A new sewer line also would beinstalled along Lipsey Street.

“That will solve a lot of our problems,” said Massengill,alluding to flooding near Kids’ Kingdom and other areas duringheavy rains.

Massengill said he had spoken with Water DepartmentSuperintendent Lanny Dickey and Engineering Associates about theproject. The mayor was unsure last night how much of the projectcould be done with the available funds.

“We want to have the least amount of engineering and the mostamount of pipe in the ground possible,” Massengill said.

Ward One Alderman Dorsey Cameron suggested the board seek bidsfor engineering services. The board unanimously approved the moveas the first step in the project.

In other action, the board voted to move forward in seekinggrant funds through the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency topurchase homes in flood-prone areas of the city.

Under the plan, the grant would pay 75 percent of costs and thecity the remaining 25 percent to purchase the homes. The city wouldpay the appraised value of the homes and the owners could thendecide whether to accept the offer to move out of the problemareas.

“That would become green space and be owned by the city ofBrookhaven,” Massengill said.

Ward Three Alderwoman Mary Wilson said there were about ninehomes that could be bought under the plan. She said one homeownershe had spoken with was opposed to the purchase proposal but otherswould need time to consider it.

In a lengthy discussion of city priorities for possible federalfunding help, officials identified drainage and water flow concernsas among the most pressing. A proposed amount for addressing thoseconcerns is $2.5 million.

Also on the priority list is a water tank, water well and linesfor a new industrial park. The estimated price tag for thatinfrastructure is $2.5 million.

Other items on a list distributed by Massengill included sewerimprovements, $1 million; a senior citizens center, $500,000;street paving and maintenance, $500,000; a home improvementprogram, $350,000; police department relocation, $300,000;interstate interchange lighting, $300,000; and fire departmentequipment needs, $300,000.

“This list is not all-inclusive, but will give us a place tostart in determining our priorities,” the mayor said in a letter tothe board.

Massengill said there are different sources of federal fundingto assist with the various projects. In recent years, cityofficials have traveled to Washington to visit with the state’scongressional delegation and request funding help with identifiedpriority projects.

In other business Tuesday, aldermen voted to donate a city-ownedportion of the old Auburn Sportswear building on Main Street to theIndustrial Development Foundation.

Massengill said the IDF is interesting in leasing the buildingto a small industrial prospect and using proceeds to help marketBrookhaven and the new industrial park. The mayor said the buildingis in poor condition and cannot be used by the city for anyfunction.

“It’s a liability. It’s not going to get better with age,”Massengill said.

Also last night, Ward Two Alderman Terry Bates voiced a concernabout the absence of the state and U.S. flags on display around thecity Monday, which was a national holiday in honor of Dr. MartinLuther King Jr.

The Brookhaven Exchange Club puts the flags out on holidaysthroughout the year. Bates requested a club representative appearat the next board meeting to explain why the flags were not put outMonday.

“If there’s some reason, they need to explain to the city whynot,” Bates said.

Bates said he had received a lot of calls about the flags’absence. The alderman said he understood the city could not forcethe private civic club to display the flags, but he said he couldrequest an explanation of why the King national holiday wasexcluded.

Following an executive session for personnel discussions,aldermen voted to name Bob Watts as interim fire chief followingChief Paul Cartwright’s intended retirement at the end of themonth. Capt. Fred Smith was named interim assistant fire chief.

Watts was named assistant chief after Moses Bell retired.Aldermen said Watts’ salary as interim chief will be determined ata later time.