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Environmental study under way for new parking area

Construction on a new parking lot for the LincolnCounty-Brookhaven Government Complex could begin in the next fewmonths depending on the result of an environmental study, accordingto county officials.

“We could really use it. I hear that a lot,” said Gary Walker,president of the board of supervisors.

Supervisors Tuesday approved a bid of $147,278.10 byBrookhaven’s Greenbriar Construction for the project pending theresults of the study.

Engineering Associates, Inc., is performing the study, which isa standard practice for any governmental construction project.

However, the environmental study for the parking lot isespecially needed because adjoining property at the corner of FirstStreet and Chickasaw Street contains two subsurface gasoline tanksfrom when the site held a gas station, said Chancery Clerk TillmonBishop. A small strip of private property will separate the parkinglot from First Street.

“The primary reason for the study is because we will not own thecorner of the property where two subsurface tanks are located,” hesaid. “The study will ensure there is no subsurface contaminationprior to construction of the parking lot.”

The lot will provide 72 additional vehicle slots for parking atthe courthouse. Entrances to the lot will be located on ChickasawStreet.

“My hope is much of that parking would be used by employees ofthe courthouse – leaving much of the existing, closer parking forcustomers to come do business,” Bishop said.

He estimated 70 to 80 people park at the existing parking lot toattend their jobs before the first customer ever arrives.Additionally, the parking lot is used by the Brookhaven PoliceDepartment for their patrol cars.

“We’ve experienced a shortage of parking at the courthouse for along time,” Bishop said. “Even when the police department leaves(to move into its new station), we’ll still be tight onparking.”

The plan for the parking lot includes several landscaped areasto improve its aesthetic appeal.

“We certainly want to adhere to any of the greenery lawsestablished by the city, but we have a severe shortage of parkingat the courthouse and that will be the priority,” Bishop said. “Wehope the landscaping will address those greenery issues.”

The chancery clerk said he is presently researching the city’sgreenery laws to see how they can be incorporated into the parkinglot plans.

“Some time or another, every person in the county has to come tothe courthouse and, right now, it’s a big hassle to find parking,especially on court days,” Bishop said. “It shouldn’t be thatway.”