Mayor, board identify city’s top priorities

Published 6:00 am Friday, February 3, 2006

Brookhaven aldermen and Mayor Bob Massengill agree on severalpriorities for the current term, while some other issues could alsoget officials’ attention over the next few years.

Following votes by city officials, the mayor and all sevenaldermen were unanimous in declaring economic development, downtownrevitalization, systematic replacement of equipment and streetpaving, and infrastructure improvement as the top priorities facingthe city. Massengill said the board can now move forward indetermining how to address those issues.

“They’ll be the ones we will be spending our time and energypursuing,” said Massengill, adding that he would be developing astrategic plan to accomplish priorities that received amajority.

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Three other issues – community appearance, Exit 40 clusterlighting and annexation – each fell one vote short of unanimousapproval. Furthermore, a community center and city bus servicereceived a majority of city officials’ votes.

Several members of the board cheered the identified prioritiesand hoped to be able to see progress made.

“We’ll do good to accomplish all of that,” said Ward ThreeAlderwoman Mary Wilson.

Ward Six Alderman Buddy Allen said all of the top-scoringpriorities were good.

“I think we got the categories right,” Allen said.

Ward Four Alderwoman Shirley Estes agreed. She said she was verypleased with how the priority voting went.

“I think it was excellent,” Estes said. “It’s what I hoped itwould be.”

Alderman at large Les Bumgarner was not quite asenthusiastic.

“We didn’t eliminate much,” said Bumgarner, referring to fiveissues that failed to receive a majority.

Among issues that failed to receive a majority were a swimmingpool, neighborhood parks, recycling, paving of all city streets anddesignated traffic lanes for wheelchair-bound citizens. While themayor did not say those issues would be abandoned, he indicatedthat city officials’ attention would be focused elsewhere.

“Obviously, they are of some importance, but are not felt bythis board to be the most important,” Massengill said.

Calling the priorities a “wish list,” Bumgarner said theavailability of funding will be a major factor in addressing thetop five issues. He was, however, pleased that downtownrevitalization was a unanimous choice among officials.

“I think that’s significant in moving the city forward,”Bumgarner said.

Massengill applauded the unanimous choice of economicdevelopment as a city priority.

“If we don’t plan for economic development, we’re not planningfor the future,” the mayor said.

Regarding paving plans, Massengill was hopeful the systematicapproach would take into account the amount of traffic on a givenstreet and its condition.

On a related note, he mentioned plans to continue a downtownpaving project along North Jackson Street to just above CherryStreet. He said that could be done since all funds were not neededin the immediate downtown area.

“That’s going to be happening in the relatively near future,”said Massengill, adding that he hoped a one-block section of CourtStreet between the railroad and North First Street could also bedone.

On topics that just missed a unanimous vote, the mayor saidcommunity appearance could also include dressing up entrance waysin all parts the city.

Massengill also mentioned annexation. A state Supreme Courtdecision on the city’s efforts is expected sometime next year.

“We’ve got that coming and we’ve got to be prepared for it,” themayor said.