• 70°

Water park work will begin without funding

Work is expected to begin soon on Atwood Water Park renovationsafter aldermen agreed to start the construction without waiting onthe funding.

The town has already been notified that they have a received agrant that will partially cover the cost of the renovations, buthas not received the money. The rest of the funding for the projectwill be amassed through timber sales, including a thinning of thetrees at the park and the clear-cutting of more than an acre for apaved parking lot.

The actual funding of the grant is awaiting wetlands useapproval by the state, but that approval is expected soon, MayorDavid Nichols said.

Aldermen are in the process of hiring a forester to overseethose cuttings and cuttings at other city sites.

The board is attempting to rush the project to get some of thework done at the park, including the timber-cutting, before many ofthe park’s annually scheduled events begin in spring.

“There are some things we can begin doing now,” Nichols said.”If we want to have some of these things done before this year’sspring and summer events we need to go ahead and get started.”

The early start on the project will not effect the town, themayor said, because even if the town had the grant funds they wouldhave to pay for the work first and be reimbursed by the grant.

The board agreed to begin work on building a new restroomfacility and to add more lighting at the front of the park, nearthe stage area where vendors usually set up during events.

“We’ve waited long enough on that,” said Ward Three AldermanGeorge Magee when making the motion.

Nichols also informed the board that he had received theengineering contract for a paved one-mile recreational trail at thepark. The town has been notified that they have received the grant,but has not received the funding for the project.

The paved trail will begin behind the gatehouse and follow theproperty line south until behind the pavilion before following thepath of the Pearl River west and then north until it cuts acrossthe park at a wooded area near the stage to reconnect with thestarting point.

Aldermen agreed not to start on the trail until they hadreceived the funding.

In other economic development matters, Nichols said the town hascompleted a lease with an industrial prospect for the McLainBuilding and he expected the prospect to sign it soon.

Renovations will be necessary at the building before theprospect can move in, however. Once the lease is signed, the townand the prospect will work together in contracting thoserenovations, he said.

Nichols said he would be able to announce the name of theprospect once the lease is signed.

The town is also in negotiations with a chain store that isinterested in anchoring a small strip mall on F.E. Sellers Highwaybetween the CStore and Radio Shack, Nichols said.

Also, the board considered a zoning request for a local treefarmer who was interested in building a two-story apartment complexin an area behind the strip mall. The apartment complex would belimited to workers on his farm, Nichols said. The mayor estimatedthat the complex would house approximately 150 migrant workers andtheir families.

The board seemed to approve of the project, but said it wouldneed to be reviewed by the town zoning committee before they couldtake it under consideration.