by Calvin Ishee, Associate Publisher
After hearing a recurring and loud chorus of never ending complaints from residents of Pass Estates, Ward 3 Alderman Anthony Hall demanded that this issue be brought before the entire Board of Alderman.
At the April 20, 2021 meeting, agenda item #14 simply read, “Consider discussing ongoing issues at Pass Estates.”
Alderman Hall noted that in spite of the owners being given a fifteen percent tax break, some of the properties are in disrepair and we need to make them maintain them. He then added, “If they don’t maintain them, we’ll have deplorable homes.”
Pass Estates is owned by Charter Consulting LTD who back in 2011 received approval from the Pass Christian Board of Alderman to build 135 housing units These units were built after Hurricane Katrina decimated much of The Pass and were designed to offer housing opportunities to teachers, police and firemen and others in need of housing.
The builders were given a 15% tax cut for fifteen years with the City taking responsibly for the streets and infrastructure at the end of fifteen years.
Furthermore, more residents would be given the option of renting or buying these homes.
For some residents this has been a great experience, but for others, not so much.
Several residents of Pass Estates rose to complain about rats, bats, severe mold, broken air conditioning units, bugs, floor damage, termites, broken steps and many other issues.
One resident commented that she has severe asthma and believes it was caused by the mold in her house. She also added that her car was repossessed due to her ongoing medical bills.
Another resident told the Board that a member of the Pass Estates management team told them to “quit filing complaints or move out.”
Tom Duffy, Pass Christian Director of Community Development/Code Enforcement Officer told the Board that he has been dealing with Pass Estates issues for the past six months.
He said that he emailed the Board outlining his efforts to fix some of the issues noted by residents.
Duffy added that he’s been going over to Pass Estates on a daily basis but some of the problems remain.
Mayor Leo “Chipper” McDermott interjected by saying “We’ve got to go straight to the top. We will contact him tomorrow. Malcolm, stop what you’re doing and we’ll contact him soonest.”
As promised, on Tuesday, April 27th, Mayor McDermott, Alderman Hall, Malcolm Jones and Tom Duffy met with a high ranking member from the owners company.
Although it’s not the City’s responsibility to ensure repairs are made to the houses, an action plan is being developed in conjunction with the City and the owners to make needed repairs accordingly.
An update will be provided in next week’s edition of The Gazebo Gazette.
Furthermore, it was noted that repairs may take a long time to complete and The Gazebo Gazette will continue covering this story until all repairs have been completed.
The Board entertained and approved a request from the Mexican Gulf Masonic Lodge #64 along with New Golden Star #25 to create a commmerative park on the Randolph Center Property. Their goal is to create a park venue dedicated to recognizing the people, organizations, and events that have been influential to the Black community of Pass Christian.
The groups are looking at erecting a monument as well as installing commemorative bricks as a tribute to deserving honorees.
In order to make this happen the City must either approve a lease or make a donation of the property on either the north or south side of the Randolph Center.
The Board directed City Attorney Malcolm Jones to research the issue and provide an update at the next Board meeting.
In routine matters approval was granted to proclaim April 18-24 as National Crime Victim’s Week and appointing Calvin Ishee to fill a recent vacancy on the Pass Christian Election with the term ending June 30, 2021.
The only question regarding this appointment came from Ward 4 Alderman Victor Pickich who wanted to make sure it wasn’t a conflict of interest with Calvin’s role with The Gazebo Gazette.
City Attorney Malcolm Jones and several others said no that it wasn’t a conflict of interest.
Alderman Hall then questioned the motivation behind long serving Election Commissioner Kenny Welch’s unexpected resignation because he felt that it might’ve been politically motivated.
City Attorney Jones assured Alderman Hall that it wasn’t in fact politically requested nor motivated.
He added that Welch voluntarily resigned so his wife could continue working as a poll worker in the upcoming Municipal City Election on June 8th.
According to a 2010 legal opinion from the Mississippi Attorney General, it was not legal to have a relative of a Election Commissioner employed during an election. Hence the reason for Mr. Welch’s resignation.
In the financial arena the Board approved $134,085.02 to Betz and Rosetti for City property insurance renewal; refunds $849.32 to Jerry Forte Seafood and $517.72 to Kimball Seafood for losses.
Primarily this was due to Hurricane Zeta; $4,950 to K&R Services for the operation and maintenance of 15 City owned generators; $11,990 to Compton Engineering; $7,400 to Overstreet & Associates and $191,319.65 in Claims Docket expenses. Next meeting is Tuesday, May 4.