by Calvin Ishee, Associate Publisher

Last Tuesday’s Board of Alderman meeting began with economic development news for a potential $50 million dollar plus project for west Pass Christian. A developer out of New Orleans “with a proven track record” (as included in the proposal submitted to the board) is proposing to develop 4.28 acres of undeveloped property at the southwest corner of Bayview Street and Cedar Avenue.

The current name of the project is “West Pass Station” and consists of a hotel with 78 rooms, 40,000 square feet of first-floor level retail space; 98 condominiums; 8,100 square feet of public commercial space including a rooftop restaurant, pool, bar and separately designed multi-use storage units.

This project will need support from the City and the board voted unanimously to support the concept of this project. Specific funding requirements and formal approval of the project will come at a later date.

Based on observations from Ward 2 Alderwoman Regina Charlot regarding the “deplorable” litter found around the City, the Board discussed the need to enforce the City’s Litter Ordinance.  Although no one present could remember the exact penalty for littering in The Pass, a City official stated that they thought it was $500.

Regardless of the penalty, citizens are encouraged to dispose of their waste properly. If not, violator’s pocket books could take a huge hit.

In other actions, various ongoing issues including an update on Pass Estates by Ward 3 Alderman Kirk Kimball. Alderman Kimball stated that he had met with Pass Estates officials and that all roofs had been repaired and work was ongoing to make previously mentioned repairs. A city official advised that a representative of Pass Estates was recently asked to be on the agenda at a future meeting.

Regarding another issue, Pass Christian City Attorney Malcom Jones informed the Board a court date had been set for August 25, 2021 for the City’s legal action against a local commercial activity operating in a residential neighborhood. Pass resident Ted Lawyer complained about this to the board several months ago and since then the City has been working diligently to resolve the matter.

Although the meeting began on a positive note, it rapidly went negative into a passionate but contentious discussion about the noise at the Pass Christian Police Department’s firing range. With a new administration in office, residents living next to the range asked for the city to finally do something about the never ending loud gunfire coming from the firing range.

Both Ward 4 Alderman Victor Pickich and Police Chief Daren Freeman responded to the noise complaints by stating that over the preceding years, the city had already done a great deal to mitigate the sounds coming from the range. Alderman Pickich noted that in addition to the city limiting times the firing range was in use, he had also personally checked the decibel levels and that they were within federal noise guidelines. The Board decided to direct City Engineer Bob Escher to conduct another study to see what else can be done to reduce the noise levels at the firing range.

Another point of contention arose when the city proposed halting the rentals of Randolph Center due to COVID concerns. Passionate comments were made from both sides of the issue with Alderman Kimball commenting, “We’re being overly cautious, instead of moving forward we’re moving backwards, this is a mistake.”  He passionately added, “It’s freedom of choice, who the hell are we to tell people what they can and can’t do? We are Americans for God’s sake.”

In the end the Board voted to allow the six current rentals to go as planned and to readdress this matter in the coming months. Furthermore, Deputy City Clerk Dawn Sanders stated that until then, the city would continue to take reservations for the Randolph Center but advise customers that a final decision on their request would be made at a later time.

As the City rapidly approaches the end of the current fiscal year, the Board approved investing money on the following:  by a vote of 3-2 $2,094.85 was awarded to AGJ for equipment and installation for the LiveStream Project for Council meetings, Ward 3 Alderman Kirk Kimball and Ward 4 Alderman Vic Pickich voted no; awarded $6,000 to Richard’s Painting to paint the outdoor basketball courts located at Church Park; awarded a $170.00 per month contract to Mississippi Power to add electrical outlets at Church Park for citizen use; $8,084 to Jerry’s Lawnmower for a new 52 inch mower for the Beautification Department; $7,964.25 to purchase a Lion/Bullex Intelligent Training System for the Fire Department; $35,921 for a new 2022 Ford F-250 Extended Cab truck from Landers Ford South for the Pass Christian Harbor; $8,254.67 in various harbor repairs and $101,717.91 in Claims Docket expenses.

Agenda items tabled included the monthly janitorial contract costs of $1,500 because City Attorney Malcom Jones stated the proposed contract included items that the City couldn’t agree to, plus Police Chief Darren Freeman asked that their restrooms be added to the cleaning contract and Alderman Kimball’s request to create visible turning lanes for seven streets along Second Street; the intent is to provide safer entry onto Second Street but will result in the elimination of several parking spaces.

The City will conduct a study to better determine costs and implications of full filling this proposal.

On the personnel front, the Board accepted the resignation of the City Purchasing Clerk Maria Mena effective immediately and they approved moving forward with the interview process for the Beautification Director position.  No reason was provided for Mena’s departure.

The next Budget meeting is scheduled for a Wednesday, August 25, 2021, 6 pm. at the City Court/Auditorium and the next Board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, September 7, 2021, 6 pm. at the same location.