The Picayune City Council has another disagreement on a fence just weeks after another fence disagreement, related to 8th Street Cemetery, was finally resolved.
At last night’s meeting, the issue discussed was about replacing 905 linear feet of fencing at Snyder Park on that is adjacent to Beech Street. Director of Public Works, Eric Morris, explained the current condition of the fence.
“Most recently, a section of the fence had been struck by an unidentified 18 wheeler that left the road and tore about 100 feet of the fence down. Prior to that, on the extreme southern portion of the fence, many of the iron posts are rusted and it was causing the fence to lean over and looked unsightly.”
(L-R) City Manager Jim Luke, Mayor Ed Pinero, Council members Tammy Valente & Larry Breland
Morris said there was a witness who saw the 18 wheeler incident, but the witness was unable to get information to be able to track down the trailer truck in order to contact the company or individual’s insurance and file a claim.
Morris told the council members that the existing fence was 6 ft high with barbed wire on top, and after discussing the situation with council members Larry Breland and Lynn Bumpers, they requested to reduce the fence to a 4 ft high fence. The estimated cost for the replacement was $8,774.22. Morris stated that “at this time of year, there are not enough funds in the Parks and Recreation budget to pay for something like this project.”
Councilman Gouguet said that he questioned the need for the fence since Snyder Park was not a child’s playground but an adult ball field.
Breland responded, “Every time it comes up about Precinct 2 or Precinct 4, especially for parks, there’s always a problem. That fence was there for safety. The lives of the kids that play there may not be as important as those at Friendship Park, but it needs to be. It should never be a problem to replace something that is already existing.”
Breland added "If a kid goes out in that street and gets killed, it’s going to “fall on the city.”
Breland asked City Clerk Amber Hinton if the city had the funds to replace the fence and she told him the money would come from cash reserves it and it would not create a problem.
Council member Bumpers added, “I agree with Larry. Since it’s already there, just fix it. Kids are out there when they have games and it is very dangerous coming through there. Although they are not using it much, it’s been there, so just fix it.”
Mayor Ed Pinero asked city attorney Nathan Farmer if with the school (Picayune School District) owning this property (16th section land), why would they not have some kind of responsibility with their insurance? Farmer explained that with this being a 16th section property lease, the city is responsible which is customary in a 16th section lease.
The council voted not to approve the project on a 4-2 no vote. Breland and Bumpers voted yes while fellow council members Tammy Valente, Wayne Gouguet, Janice Stevens, and Mayor Ed Pinero all voted no.
After the vote was taken, Breland made some strong comments toward the council’s process. As he has done many times, Breland stated that time and time again the other members of the council have proven that his vote and Ms. Bumpers vote does not count.
Breland stated, “You all have us in a situation where we have a double. You have showed us and told us our two little votes don’t mean nothing. It’s taxation without representation. You are dividing this city along these lines and it’s bad.”
Breland questioned Parks and Recreation Director Trevor Adam to remind the council on what he told them about this fence at a previous council meeting. Adam said the fence needed to be torn down all the way to Head Start and replaced.
Breland then stated, “It’s not going to be long in the city of Picayune, if we keep on doing this, we’ll being going back to Jim Crow.”
Council member Bumpers added, “I don’t think some of us on this board (council) don’t have guts enough to vote the way they should vote and that should be the right way.”