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Board seeks bids on train station dock

Aldermen made quick work of a busy Tuesday agenda afterreturning from the holiday season, but brought Brookhaven one tinystep closer to using its new transportation facility.

Phase III of the multi-modal transportation project is under way asboard members approved advertising for bids on the construction ofthe train station’s docking platform.

The original platform of 80 feet will need an additional 320 feet.Mayor Les Bumgarner thinks the larger docking station is needed sothe train only needs to stop one time each trip to allow passengersto board and exit the train.

While 80 percent of the funding for the extended platform will becovered by a grant through the Mississippi Department ofTransportation, Amtrak will be picking up the tab for the city’s 20percent.

“It was more important for Amtrak to extend (the platform) than itwas for us,” said Bumgarner.

Roughly 10 years in the making, Bumgarner thinks the transportationfacility will be worth the wait in the long run.

“We feel like we’ll pick up a lot of traffic from surroundingcities,” said Bumgarner. “The fact they are going to stop heremakes it worthwhile to have a good facility.”

Bumgarner added that Brookhaven is one of three places inMississippi that Amtrak is required to stop. That fact, combinedwith an impressive train station, could lead to an increase inbusiness for the city.

The mayor hopes to have a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the facilityby March or April.

Bumgarner also addressed the board about the possibility ofsidewalk renovations.

The mayor questioned the board about their interest in new walkwaysbefore he begins pursuit of a grant to help with the costs ofpossible new construction. As board members seemed receptive,Bumgarner said he would consult with local business community aswell.

“We’re going to explain to them it’s going to involve someinconvenience,” said Bumgarner. “Make sure they’re wantingthis.”

The mayor plans to be in touch with business owners, the DowntownMerchants Association and the Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber ofCommerce.

While heavy equipment and makeshift walkways would temporarilyhinder sidewalk traffic in downtown, the changes could impactBrookhaven permanently by leading to more commerce for thecity.

“One of the most stimulating things about purchasing is site,” saidBumgarner.

Bumgarner added that new sidewalks could be the last step incompleting downtown’s charm.

“We’ve done so much work downtown to get it looking good,” saidBumgarner. “This is the finishing touch.”

In other business, the board approved additional options for themobile fire trainer.

The trainer, a mobile trailer of 50 feet, will see the additions ofa 14 by eight feet second story aluminum structure and theinstallation of a sound system.

“(These) will be valuable for training,” said Brookhaven FireDepartment Chief Tony Weeks. “Kind of want to make it as realisticas possible.”

The additional options will bring the fire trainer total to about$334,000, roughly $1,000 shy of using the complete Assistance toFirefighters Grant, which was awarded by FEMA in August.

“About got it all, didn’t you,” Bumgarner joked.

Board members also heard the disapproval of Phyllis Strauthers, of1001 South Railroad Ave., after recently being denied by the boardof adjustments to place a singlewide mobile home inside the citylimits.

A current city ordinance bans singlewide mobile homes inside citylimits, with the exception of a grandfather clause and theordinance allows a singlewide to be replaced by another singlewidetrailer within 90 days.

Strauthers feels justified in her disagreement because a singlewideexists down the street from where she currently lives, and sheclaims there was never a singlewide trailer there before. She saidhas been on her property for roughly seven years.

While the board admitted to being mistaken in the previous case,having thought a singlewide trailer existed in the location inquestion based on the evidence presented to them, most aldermen andCity Attorney Joe Fernald felt two wrongs would not constitute aright.

“What do we do the next time, the next time and the next time,”said Fernald. “Precedent is everything, precedent is key.”

However, few aldermen did feel a special exception would beOK.

“Some people, that’s all they can afford,” said Ward Three AldermanMary Wilson. “I don’t have a problem with it.”

The board took no action following Strauthers’ comments.