Less talk, more action, mayor urges aldermen

Published 7:52 pm Thursday, March 4, 2010

After a meeting in which the Brookhaven Board of Aldermen raiseda variety of concerns, Mayor Les Bumgarner urged them to try tobecome problem-solvers instead of just pointing out issues fordiscussion.

“We come in here and we talk about problems, we talk aboutproblems, we talk about problems, but we need solutions,” he toldthe board after Tuesday’s meeting had been adjourned. “Just to talkabout them and talk about them, that’s what we end up doing, but weneed to actually start taking action.”

Bumgarner pointed out to the group that several issues had beenbrought up, but that no solutions had been offered.

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Ward Six Alderman David Phillips pointed out that if eitherimmediate action or measures toward action are not taken, it’s easyto forget an issue and move forward without ever doing anythingabout it.

“We come in here and talk about them and then we get distractedwith 15 other things, and things never seem to get done,” he said.”If we get together in a work session and we structure it andpeople have a time limit to speak, we can get more done.”

Among discussions during the meeting was one about office buildingsthat end up being rented to retail stores. Ward Five Alderman D.W.Maxwell said he has a problem in his ward where a retail businesssituated in a former office building is taking up all the parkingspots in its area, so that it’s hard for other businesses to haveplaces for their employees and clients to park.

“Some of these buildings have been there for years and the parkinglots are small and what’s happening now is that landlords arerenting these small spaces to retail businesses,” he said.

Maxwell added that with new businesses in new buildings,inspections are being done to make sure that parking is adequate,but that it doesn’t happen with the older buildings.

Maxwell asked for something like an increased fee to allow CityBuilding Inspector Chip Genarro to check for adequate parking, or ahold on privilege licenses, both of which City Clerk Mike Jinkssaid were not possible. City Attorney Joe Fernald said the issuedoesn’t belong to the city in most cases.

“That’s a landlord’s problem,” Fernald said. “If he wants to rentsomething that destroys all the rest of his tenants, that’s hisproblem. We can’t micromanage that from the city.”

Fernald also pointed out that another office building could bemoved in with more employees, and the same problem couldoccur.

Bumgarner told Maxwell to come up with a proposed solution to theproblem and submit it to the board.

Ward One Alderman Dorsey Cameron also asked what the situation ison Brookhaven’s tornado sirens. The city currently has two sirens,one of which has been reported in recent years not to beworking.

Cameron asked the board if that siren had ever been fixed and ifthere were funds available to improve the system. Jinks told himthe city had applied for a grant and been turned down.

“I see other cities getting new sirens, and I don’t know howthey’re getting them, but we need to try again,” he said. “Maybethe opportunity is right to try again.”

The board also discussed the issue of people selling dogs inparking lots, primarily the one at Wal-Mart.

“Every weekend there are three or four people out there sellingdogs, and the other day I couldn’t even get out of the parking lotbecause someone had stopped to talk to someone in the parking lotselling dogs,” Maxwell said. “We need to decide if we want to allowthat in our parking lots.”

Brookhaven Police Chief Pap Henderson told Maxwell that the parkinglot at Wal-Mart is supposed to be monitored for dog vendors.

“Evidently my guys dropped the ball, because we’ve been monitoringthat,” he said. “I need to get back with my guys and see whythey’re not doing their job. My officers are supposed to be keepingthat clear.”

The board also approved Frank Moak’s yearly request for use of thecity streets for the Mississippi Gran Prix Bike Race. The race hasbeen moved up from the third week in April to the second week toavoid conflicts, he said.

Moak told the board that one thing about the race is changing. Thisyear the proceeds will go to fund a mentor-mentee program that willhelp fill in the gaps left by Big Brothers Big Sisters when it wasended in Lincoln County.

“There’s a group doing that here, and we’re going to try to fundthem this year,” he said.