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Aldermen OK storm drain repairs

     After an executive session, the Brookhaven Board of Aldermen came together to approve allocation of funds to repair a municipal storm drain in the city.

     The city originally built the storm drain system in 1926, and it has not seen any repairs since that time.

     Located on the north side of Brookhaven Elementary School on Chippewa Street, part of the drain system sits underneath a house that builders constructed in 1936, making it an expensive challenge for the board to consider.

     “The drain has collapsed, and it could get worse,” said Mayor Joe Cox.

     Spokesman and engineer for WGK Inc., Mike McKenzie, who provided the board with a quote on the proposed repair, envisioned the potential ramifications of not fixing the drain.

     “In the near time, you might get by without doing anything,” McKenzie said. “However, this could become a big exposure. If there is a major storm, or something of that magnitude, there could be water coming out of every orifice,” he said.

     However, the $200,000-plus probable price tag for the repair perked the ears of some of the aldermen, and sparked some discussion during the meeting.

     Ward 2 Alderman Terry Bates suggested that if the city makes significant repairs to one drain, it should make significant repairs to all of them.

     “We just need to be consistent,” he said.

     Ward 4 Alderman Shirley Estes responded to Bates by remarking, “To repair all of the drains in Brookhaven is simply an impossibility. As much as we would like to do it, it can’t be done.”

     Bates also mentioned concern over public vs. private property. In the case of the storm drain in question, major rerouting of the drain would be required. Before city engineers can perform any work, permission from property owners would be necessary.

     “There is a substantial legal obligation on our part to repair it. We built it. It is city property. And we won’t be able to drain water until we fix it,” said City Attorney Joe Fernald.

     As noted by Alderman at Large Karen Sullivan, a storm drain system is quite different from a ditch. The city created the storm drain system from brick and mortar many years ago as part of an overall drainage system. The longevity of the drain since that time has been a bit of wonderment to the mayor and the board.

     “I find it remarkable that the drain lasted as long as it did,” remarked Cox.

     As of today, the mayor was unable to give a prospective time frame for the project’s start.

     In other business, the board heard the impassioned plea of resident Lisa Webb, concerning childhood apraxia of speech, a motor speech disorder that her six-year-old son Lee faces.

     Webb encouraged the board of alderman and the community to participate in “Lee’s Mighty Mississippi Walk,” an event Lee organized to raise awareness and education regarding childhood apraxia.

     Jim Smith of Green Alliance and James Johnston of Natchez presented the board with information concerning a regional recycling initiative at the meeting last night as well.