by Sean Macken

Mayor George Bass presented a proclamation to Cynthia Shields last Tuesday’s Long Beach Board of Aldermen Meeting citing May as “Mental Health Awareness Month.” The proclamation encouraged local government, businesses, schools and citizens to recognize the contributions of those with mental health issues, and that those individuals with mental and physical disabilities simply want the opportunities to succeed in life like anyone else.

Later in the meeting, Parks and Recreation Department Direct Bob Paul noted the city was close to installing an ADA-compliant swing in War Memorial park and a ribbon-cutting ceremony led by Mayor Bass would take place in 1.5-2 weeks.

The meeting started with a public hearing for a property at 114 Beachview Circle. Deputy City Clerk Kini Gonsoulin read the posting sent to the property owner for not having their property in order according to city ordinances.  Gonsoulin followed-up by saying the property had been cleaned and was now in compliance per Building Department head Mike Gundlach. The board voted to close the hearing and then unanimously noted the property as being compliant.

City Attorney, Jim Simpson, then noted to the Mayor and Board that Alderman Frazer had asked for him to review Ordinance 606 that updated Ordinance 598. Frazer stated that he believes section 126 on “Home Ownership” had inadvertently been deleted from the new ordinance.  Simpson agreed to review the ordinance with Alderman Frazer and bring the updated language to the board at their next meeting on May 21st.

The meeting then turned to departmental issues. Mayor Bass notified the Board that the Building Department and Court had outdated software program that prevented the Building Department to trace permits and other actions. And the Court could not visualize outstanding warrants from the County or neighboring cities. Both entities were requesting the city to purchase “Munis” public software used by other municipalities along the Gulf Coast, the State and neighboring states. Although the purchase would involve an increase in software costs, the Mayor indicated it would bring much-needed efficiencies to these departments. A formal proposal will be brought before the Board in the near future.

The Deputy Police Chief noted the department would provide patrol and other services to the Biloxi Police Department so their officers could attend services for fallen Officer Robert McKeithen. Mayor Bass commended the department for their support and noted the City of Long Beach fully understood what Biloxi was going through since Long Beach suffered a similar loss of 2 officers 21 years ago.

Two Hurricane Nate projects brought forward by the Engineering Department received Board approval.

The Engineering department also answered questions on a request by the Dynsmore Subdivision. Public Works Head, Joe Culpepper, noted the city usually assumes the coast for street lighting and pumps from a developer after approximately 2 years. In this case, the Dynsmore developer had carried those costs for around 6-7 years. The Board unanimously approved a motion to assume future costs and support for the subdivision.

In addition to his earlier discussion on the ADA swing installation, Parks & Recreation Director Bob Paul updated the Board on various activities within the department. In fact, Paul said Friday Bingo was at 100% capacity. A new tap and clogging class was popular and would be moved to the afternoon to allow working seniors to take part in the classes. He noted he was going to make one of his part-time employees a full-time employee to help keep up with the popularity of the Senior and Rec. Centers.

City Attorney Simpson then brought forward two lawsuits requesting to vacate plats in the city. First, Simpson addressed a lawsuit to vacate the plat at the Oasis Condominiums. He noted this was an indication on the positive state of the Real Estate market in Long Beach and recommended the Board vote to allow the owner to vacate the plat, which they did unanimously.

Second, he addressed a request vacate a plat for a series of lots and a city right of way on Oak Street. Mr. Simpson noted a house owner on Oak Street had erected a fence that protruded into the street right of way and was asking for the city to vacate the plat for this right of way. Ward 6 Alderman Patricia Bennett asked if the city approved this motion would it affect building on 2 lots to the south. Simpson affirmed that voting to vacate the plat would in fact land-lock those lots. Based on this information the Board voted to reject this request.

Finally, the Mayor moved to adjourn the meeting. Alderman Frazer made a motion to adjourn in honor of Fallen Biloxi Police Officer Robert McKeithen, which the Board agreed to unanimously.