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Board hears sewer priorities

Sewer improvement priorities took center stage Tuesday as cityleaders considered how to spend an expected $2.7 million in federaland local funds needed for the work.

Officials discussed the sewer system needs during a work sessionprior to last night’s regular board meeting. Mayor Bob Massengillsaid system improvements are contingent on getting the anticipatedfederal funds.

“If we receive the appropriations that we are hopeful ofreceiving, we should be able to complete roughly $2.7 million worthof sewer projects with no increase in taxes,” Massengill said.

The city has been approved for $500,000 for the current fiscalyear and is expecting $1 million for next year, although Massengillsaid federal spending for Hurricane Katrina relief could impactthat.

The city would have to provide $1.2 million in required localmatching funds. Massengill said the city has $1.3 million in bondissue proceeds on hand available for that purpose.

Among the priorities for the first year are installing 1,700feet of new sewer lines in the Natchez Avenue area west of Highway51 and installing 3,500 feet of new lines between Field Lark Laneand the area behind Kid’s Kingdom. Also on the priority list is$60,000 for removal of sludge at the city’s Waste Water TreatmentPlant.

“We’ve got an accumulation of at least 15 years of sludge thatneeds to be removed,” said Massengill, adding that he believes cityresources can handle that work.

The Natchez Avenue work would involve removal of a lift stationthat was installed in 1972 and now is in need of an upgrade. Thenew gravity line would replace the station and is expected to beable to serve the area for 50 years or more.

“Once you put this line in, you won’t have any more problems,”said Water Department Superintendent Lanny Dickey.

The other first year project would complete an earlier projectin which new sewer lines were installed in the north Brookhavenarea.

“That’s a continuation of that project,” Dickey said of theField Lark Lane work.

The price tag for the first year of work is estimated at$926,500.

Priorities for the second year of sewer system work includeinstallation of 2,300 feet of new lines from the Kid’s Kingdom areato Lipsey Street, 2,300 feet of new line between Chickasaw Streetand St. George Street and 5,000 feet between Chippewa Street andComstock Street. That work is estimated at $1.97 million.

Massengill stressed that while there may be sewer problems in aspecific area, concerns downstream must be addressed first. He saidthat is the idea behind the identified priorities.

For the work involving St. George Street, city officials hope toreceive a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). The maximumgrant amount is $450,000 and applications are due Feb. 16, saidWoody Sample, a city planning consultant.

Sample discussed the eight ratings criteria for the grantprogram. Those include the number of people with low-moderateincomes who would be helped by the project, city matching funds andother factors.

“We don’t know if we can get you funded, but we know that youcan be competitive,” Sample said.

One area the city will not benefit, Sample said, is bonus pointsfor timely completion of the city’s last CDBG project. Sample didnot elaborate.

The last project involved the Kid’s Kingdom sewer lines. CityAttorney Joe Fernald said the city had problems with neededproperty easements and could not obtain one.

“It was a nightmare,” Fernald said during a work sessionbreak.

Dickey said the sewer system priorities are needed to improvelines and to accommodate city growth.

“We’ll be increasing the line sizes to handle the capacity forgrowth,” Dickey said.

During the work session, Massengill did not ask aldermen to acton the sewer system plans. However, he said problems would onlyworsen if the city does not deal with them.

“We’ve got to make a decision soon so we can move forward onthese,” Massengill said.

During last night’s regular meeting, aldermen approved theengineering firm of Williford, Gearhart and Knight to work withSample on the St. George Street project that would use CDBGfunds.

Aldermen also approved conducting a survey of the Saint GeorgeStreet area to determine how many fall into the low to moderateincome category. Massengill said he hoped to get some out-of-schoolteachers to conduct the survey the week after Christmas.

“We’ll get that ball rolling, the sooner the better,” the mayorsaid.