Boulevard plans moving forward

Published 5:00 am Thursday, April 7, 2005

Monticello moved into the next phase of its plan to build aboulevard to connect the downtown area with the Highway 84bypass.

A study on where to build the boulevard and draft architecturalconceptual drawings have already been done. The board this weekapproved the county engineer to begin assessing the cost ofpurchasing the land along the proposed route.

There are no houses along the route, said Mayor DavidNichols.

The mayor said the Mississippi Department of Transportation hasagreed to build a portion of the frontage road along the Highway 84Bypass between the old and new Highway 27s, but the city will needto complete that and tie in the new boulevard. The boulevard wouldemerge in town near the post office.

Nichols on Tuesday called the boulevard “vital” to the downtownarea’s survival, and said the “time is now” to begin moving forwardor miss their opportunity.

Aldermen cited Mendenhall and Magee as towns that watched theirdowntown areas die when new highways bypassed them. Instead offunneling traffic to their downtowns, the municipalities allowedbusinesses to move to the new highway.

Aldermen believe a more balanced approach is necessary to keepMonticello alive.

Nichols cautioned aldermen Tuesday that although the town isexperiencing rapid expansion, they need to remember theirpriorities.

The comments came during a discussion later in the meeting whenDistrict Four Alderman Dick Reeves suggested the possibility of asmall bond issue to cover improvements at the sportsplex, which hadbeen denied a grant for a multipurpose building to house theconcession stand, press box, storage and other facilities. Aldermenare also wanting to make other improvements to the park.

Nichols said he was concerned that if the board authorized majorexpenses at the sportsplex it may jeopardize a future bond issuefor the boulevard, which he regarded as the more important of thetwo projects.

District Five Alderman Steve Clyburn agreed.

Reeves did not disagree with the mayor, but said he still wanteda price estimate for all the improvements planned for thesportsplex.

The board agreed to make improvements at the sportsplex whenmoney became available, but would not endanger the boulevardproject.