New conditions cited for transport hub go-ahead

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, October 8, 2008

It’s a fair question in the discussion of the proposedMultimodal facility to be located near the smokestack on RailroadAvenue: Is the project on or off today?

Mayor Bob Massengill told the board of aldermen at Tuesdaynight’s meeting that the project – which has been held up over nineyears by minutiae and red tape – can now proceed under twoconditions. The city will have to pay more than originally plannedbecause of the cost of inflation since the last cost estimate wasdone in 2005, and the crossing at Josephine Street will have to beclosed.

The estimate in 2005 was around $900,000, but architect MichaelBarranco said work in 2009 will cost $1.35 million. Massengill saidthe city can apply for an appropriation that would cover 80 percentof the additional cost, meaning the city’s cost would be around$90,000 to $100,000.

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“I find it strange that the price goes up 40 to 50 percent injust four years,” said Alderman at-large Les Bumgarner.

Meanwhile, Canadian National Railroad told the mayor in ane-mail that if the facility is built, the railroad crossing atJosephine Street must be closed for safety reasons.

“We may be able to get $20,000-$30,000 from (the MississippiDepartment of Transportation) if we close the Josephine Streetcrossing,” Massengill said, adding that often MDOT will pay forcrossing closures.

Ward Six Alderman David Phillips asked what the impact would beon Fire Station Two, which is located on Willard Street, andwhether the closing would affect their ability to respond.Massengill said they would use the crossing at Enterprise Street.Meanwhile, other city workers also use that crossing fairly often,but otherwise it doesn’t see a lot of traffic, officials said.

Massengill told the board no action is necessary yet, but askedaldermen to ponder options until the Oct. 21 board meeting.

The facility will take the place of the old power plant facilitylocated near the smokestack on Railroad Avenue. Officials have saidin the past that any improvement over the current train facilitiesat the corner of Whitworth Avenue and Monticello Street would bewelcome.

In other board action, Brookhaven Lincoln County Chamber ofCommerce Executive Vice President Cliff Brumfield spoke to theboard and said a recent survey of the city by the First ImpressionsProgram had gone well and much has been learned. The program is runthrough the Mississippi State Community Action Team and theMississippi State University Extension Service.

“This gave them a chance to come into Brookhaven and look at thecommunity and tell us what our assets are, and what are not,”Brumfield said. “This is a great opportunity for us to worktogether for the city.”

Brumfield said the slide show of the group’s findings will beavailable for public viewing at the Chamber of Commerce QuarterlyMeeting at 7:30 a.m. on Oct. 30. He said the location has yet to bedetermined.

Aldermen also discussed the yearly Christmas decorations withBrumfield, who said more falling star pole-mount lights have beenordered. Talks will be ongoing about where the additional lightsneed to go, as Brumfield said some of the areas where officials hadwanted to mount the falling stars will not work because of AT&Tequipment that is mounted on the poles.

In addition to the Christmas lights discussion, Brumfield saidwork on downtown street lights will begin this week. The projectwill include 38 lights on 19 light poles to be installed inRailroad Park down to the Depot, as well as on Whitworth Avenue.The lights will be funded through a Rural Development lighting andsignage grant the city received last year.

City officials also discussed the findings of the downtownparking subcommittee, chaired by Ward Three Alderwoman MaryWilson.

“We’re getting together some suggestions that we think mighthelp,” she said. “But everybody doesn’t feel like there’s aproblem.”

Massengill said he’s been paying attention to parking in thedowntown area in recent weeks, and while some areas are busy duringcertain times of the day, there is always available parkingdowntown.

“Of course at the Haven where they’re doing the work and theyhave the dumpster there, it’s full,” he said. “But at just aboutall hours there are places available.”

Bumgarner pointed out that the economy has slowed locally withthe national economic dip, and that there aren’t as many shoppersrecently as there have been.

Wilson said she wants to organize and make a list of thecommittee’s suggestions to give to all the members of the boardbefore further discussion, and that she is in the process of thatproject.