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City moves forward on buildings & Hwy 11 widening prep work

Councilman Larry Breland (center) asks questions during City Council meeting

The Picayune City Council met last night and most of the discussion centered around new building needs and existing building repairs.

Picayune Fire Chief Keith Brown asked the Council for authorization to release bids for a new fire station to be built on Beech Street near the intersection of Goodyear Blvd. Brown said the bid process would last about three weeks once the bids are released for responses from potential bidders for the project. Brown also stated there would be a pre-bid conference occurring at some point during the three week process. The Council unanimously approved the request.

Brooks Wallace, of Dungan Engineering and the City Engineers office, came before the board to request action on a number of items and a request to begin the process for a new roof for the police station.

The council approved a request from Wallace to use bond money set aside in past years to continue work on the City’s efforts for the Geo-Resources Gas Main Replacement Project-Phase 2.

Councilman Wayne Gouget asked, “What is the current status of gas leakage since the City began work on the City’ gas lines?”

Public Works Director Eric Morris stated the city was at around 3 percent overall now compared to around 39 to 42 percent unaccounted for when these projects started years ago. Wallace expected this next phase of line replacement to be completed by the end of the year.

Wallace also received authorization to begin an improvement project at the City airport to be funded with a $165,000.00 grant. Wallace said wetlands mitigation will account for $110,000.00 of this phase of the project.

In preparation for the widening of Highway 11 from Boley Creek to Hideaway Lake, the city approved a water main relocation project in the amount of $600,000.00. Wallace said MDOT will pay for 38 percent of the project while the City will be responsible for 62 percent of the cost.

In a related request, the Council approved Wallace’s request of $75,000.00 for relocation of a gas main in preparation for the Highway 11 project. The City will be responsible for 91 percent of the cost of this project and MDOT will cover the remaining 9 percent.

Wallace told the Council these utility relocations must be completed before MDOT will begin releasing bids for the Highway 11 widening project. Councilman Larry Breland asked about the city funds available for these relocation projects. City Clerk Amber Hinton reminded Breland that the City’s part of the funding was set aside in the budget for previous years based on estimated cost of these projects.

Wallace made a request to move forward with bids to replace the existing roof on the Police station. Councilman Breland expressed concerns over this work.

Breland stated, “First of all, I agree it’s needed. But my concern is, with the age of that building, when we keep putting money in this building, to me it’s just more simpler to just build a new police station. Now, we say we don’t have the money, and it’s true, but instead of just keep patching it, I would like for us to look for some kind of grant money to build a new station.”

Breland asked City Manager Jim Luke about the possibility of grant money, Luke responded “Many times we have looked for grants and we’ve been unsuccessful. There was grant money available for such projects after Hurricane Katrina, but those grants were for buildings in cities where there was water damage, and while we had some water damage, most of ours was wind and the grants did not apply to us.”

Councilwoman Tammy Valente agreed with Breland, but stated that after last year’s budget session she discussed the possibility of grants with Special Projects' Christy Goss and there were no grants available to assist with the building of a police station.

Breland insisted the City exhaust all avenues and he posed the question to City Attorney Nathan Farmer.

Farmer told Breland, “The only thing I could think of is Dept of Justice grants, but Christy has exhausted that avenue and the only option may be a bond issue. Like Brooks has said, these are high end structures and grant monies for them are rare if any are available.”

Public Works Director Eric Morris stated that this project was not a patch, but a new roof and the project also includes the replacement of the air conditioning units as well. The estimated cost of the roof replacement is $295,000.00. The Council unanimously approved the request to advertise for bids for the project.


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