Train hub, shelter projects on track

Published 6:49 pm Wednesday, October 6, 2010

As city officials look forward to the completion of onelong-awaited project, another appears ready to get off the drawingboard.

During Tuesday night’s board meeting, aldermen heard updates on thetransportation center under development on North Railroad Avenueand a new storm shelter to be constructed on Industrial ParkRoad.

Building Inspector Steve Moreton said Phase Two of thetransportation center project, which included paving and buildingwork, is complete. Phase Three will involve development of a400-foot train platform instead of an 80-foot structure originallyplanned for the center.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“Every phase is making it a better facility,” said Mayor LesBumgarner.

Bumgarner said the city had received a six-month extension to usefederal funds secured for the project and Amtrak is working onplatform plans. Amtrak has agreed to cover the city’s portion oflocal matching funds and also assist with signage costs.

“They’re getting plans and specifications together to put it out toadvertise for bids,” the mayor said.

City officials are hoping to have the more than $1 million centercompleted around the first of the year.

Also Tuesday, Alderman at large Karen Sullivan and Ward SixAlderman David Phillips updated fellow board members of the statusof the FEMA 361 Safe Room project. The approximately $3 millionfacility will be designed to accommodate up to 950 people for up to36 days in the event of hurricane evacuation or some similaremergencies.

“We told them we wanted something that didn’t look like a squarebuilding,” Sullivan said about meeting with architects to designthe structure.

Plans call for the facility to be built more than 100 feet off theroad with a covered walkway at the entrance. Sullivan said therewill be minimal landscaping.

“Less is more when it comes to landscaping,” she said.

Phillips said the value of the land is about $90,000, which willmake up the biggest part of the city’s 5 percent match to thefederal funding to build the facility. The rest of the local matchcould be in labor and infrastructure.

Phillips said the city may also use the facility, possibly as aconference center, under certain conditions. Bumgarner said thebuilding will become city property after 40 years.

Officials are expecting the project to begin sometime next year andbe completed in the spring of 2012.

Ward Five Alderman D.W. Maxwell cited concerns about access to thefacility in its planned location near the sports complex. Hesuggested locating it in the business park.

“I think we have an area in the business park where this would beOK,” Maxwell said.

Bumgarner said business park officials lobbied against locating itthere.

Phillips was appreciative of the efforts by architects Wier andBoerner to design an attractive building.

“Instead of a box or a bunker, we got a building we can be proudof,” Phillips said.

Bumgarner informed aldermen he received word late Tuesday the cityhas been approved for grant funds for a Brignall fire loop. Theapproximately $750,000 project, with the city and federalgovernment each paying half, will improve fire protection to thenorthern part of the city that was taken in duringannexation.

“We’re excited about that,” the mayor said.

In other business Tuesday, Mississippi Urban Forestry Councilrepresentative Donna Yowell presented the city with a plague torecognize the city’s membership in the Tree City USA program.

“You’re in a very select group of cities in Mississippi,” saidYowell, pointing out there are 27 Tree City municipalities in thestate.

Yowell touted the social and environmental benefits of trees andcomplimented local efforts to promote them.

Also, aldermen approved – pending review by the city attorney, whowas absent last night – an amendment to the city’s huntingordinance to allow target shooting on property with sufficientacreage. The ordinance covers only a handful of property owners,many of whom were annexed into the city in 2007.

Maxwell, who worked on the changes, said the amended huntingordinance calls for a $20 permit fee and was crafted along thelines of the city’s burn permit ordinance.

“It follows the burn ordinance pretty well,” he said.

In a vote that was delayed due to an absent alderman at the lastmeeting, the board approved a beer permit for Recess 101. OwnersEric and Teresa Moyer sought a special exemption to city rules dueto an inability to locate surrounding property owners for apetition not objecting to the permit.

Last night’s vote was 3-1-1. Aldermen Shirley Estes and DorseyCameron were absent.

Ward Three Alderman Mary Wilson, in whose ward the restaurant islocated but was absent at the last meeting, voted against themeasure and Maxwell abstained. Maxwell, who pushed through twoamendments to the motion, said he had concerned about using thespecial exemption clause to grant a beer permit to a first-timeapplicant.