Council moves forward with BP projects; awards city-wide paving contract
During yesterday’s audio conference call meeting of the Picayune City Council, the council considered the request to apply for funding from the MS Gulf Coast Restoration fund. The council had held a workshop Monday morning to discuss projects that they would like to see move forward when it comes to funding from the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.
The three projects decided upon are Friendship Park upgrades, Jerusalem Road project, and the Wal-Mart Intersection improvement project.
Councilwoman Tammy Valente told the council that she had reached out to receive an ethics opinion on whether she should vote for the projects since one of the proposed projects is for work to be performed in the Jerusalem Road area which would be adjacent to land at the end of the road that her church she attends, Resurrection Life Ministry, owns.
“Because of COVID-19, I have not been able to get an ethical opinion in writing, but I did receive a verbal non-binding opinion that I am free to vote,” Valente stated.
Mayor Ed Pinero questioned why Valente would seek an opinion rather than just voting and he asked her if she owned land in that area?
Valente reminded the mayor of the conversation and discussion during a council meeting last year when this same project came up for approval for submittal and she recused herself. She reiterated that she wanted to have an ethical opinion before she voted and wanted to give the rest of the council a heads up before discussion and a vote was taken this year.
After Valente’s explanation, Pinero responded that he did remember last year’s discussion.
Pinero then stated, “ I did not see a problem with it and I would never not vote just because I was a member of a church.”
Councilman Larry Breland said during a short discussion that he understands Valente’s position on the matter.
Valente responded to Pinero that would be his choice and she had made her choice. Pinero appeared bothered with her response and later stated, “It’s about time you did. Good for you.”
All members of the council voted to apply for the funding. If one, or all three of the projects are approved, the BP funds will cover 80 percent of the total cost while the remaining 20 percent will be up to the city to cover.
The council also approved the bid for work to begin on the city-wide paving project. Among the dozens of streets to be paved, the council made some additions to the total to include the travel lanes of Goodyear Boulevard, all of Memorial Boulevard, and the Millbrook Road Intersection.
The bid was awarded to Huey P. Stockstill LLC and the total came to $6,019,709.85.
The three additions will have a total cost of $702,790.35 as part of the overall total of the $6 million plus.
Jonathan Hickman of the City Engineer's office said he anticipates workers and equipment should be mobilized and begin work around mid-August.