• 57°

City seeking funds for major sewer project

Brookhaven aldermen Tuesday voted to apply for more than $1.4million in funding through the Environmental Protection Agency, amove which will be combined with local funds as part of anestimated $2.7 million sewer improvement project.

The city’s application will combine its request for two years’worth of funding for fiscal years 2005 and 2006. Mayor BobMassengill said he hopes to receive bids on the six-part project bythe summer and then be able to complete the work in 12 to 14months.

The federal funds will have to be matched with local fundstotaling $1.18 million, which the city has available from aprevious bond issue approved for water and sewer system upgrades.Massengill said having local funds on hand means there will be noneed for tax or rate increases or other bond issues.

“That is a wonderful situation to be in,” the mayor said.

The six projects targeted for the funding include elimination ofa lift station in the Natchez Avenue area and several lineupgrades. Those involve between Field Lark Lane and Kids’ Kingdom,Kids’ Kingdom to Lipsey Street, Saint George Street to EastChickasaw, an area around Comstock Street including West ChippewaStreet and an area near Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive includingCloverdale.

Water Department Superintendent Lanny Dickey said the Field LarkLane to Kids’ Kingdom project is part of an ongoing effort from afew years ago.

“It needs to be finalized,” Dickey said.

Massengill cautioned that the largest project, involving Dr.Martin Luther King Jr. Dr., an area near the Shriner’s Club andCloverdale, may have be done in sections.

“We may only, because of funds, be able to do part of that,” themayor said, “but this will give us a good start.”

City officials did not discuss cost estimates of specific workto be done as part of the project. Massengill said totals presentedto aldermen were rough estimates.

“My hope is when we bid out this work, the bids come in and theywill be lower than what we’re looking at here,” the mayor said.

The federal funds are a special appropriation being overseen bythe EPA, Massengill said.

Massengill said some sewer lines around the city are more than50 years old and subject to infiltration and inflow fromgroundwater getting into the lines. The mayor said that adds to theamount of water that has to be treated at the Waste Water TreatmentPlant.

The upcoming work will by no means correct all sewer problemsaround the city, Massengill said. He said other work needs to bedone, but officials needed to prioritize projects that needed to bedone first.

“We’ve got another list that we will work on next, but this getsus started,” Massengill said.

In other business Tuesday, aldermen offered less thanenthusiastic support for renovating the old Mississippi HighwayPatrol building on Highway 51 as the Brookhaven Police Department’snew headquarters.

Alderman at large Les Bumgarner urged a central location for thedepartment. He said the department needs to be close todowntown.

“The police need to be where the action is,” Bumgarner said.

Aldermen have been considering renovating the old MHP buildingor selling it and building a new police department elsewhere. TheMHP building and property recently appraised for $250,000.

With $125,000 budgeted for the renovation and assuming the citycould sell the property for the full amount, Massengill said theboard would have $375,000 to build a new police departmentfacility. The mayor said he has been working on a list ofcity-owned property that could be a suitable location.

One suggestion, from City Attorney Joe Fernald, could be tomaintain a police substation presence in the law enforcementcomplex and have police headquarters in another location. He saidhaving the police department near city court, in the governmentcomplex, is “invaluable.”

Aldermen were receptive to the idea, but also urged the mayor tocontinue with his efforts to find city-owned land for the policedepartment.

Among appearances Tuesday, a group of residents appeared to askthat Winter Street be closed. They cited children’s safety concernsin requesting the street closure.

Fernald said a public hearing will be needed to hear from allinterested parties and to determine whether the city can close thestreet.