by Calvin Ishee, Associate Publisher
Although most of the October 19, 2021 Board meeting was dominated by the reconsideration vote on the Tax Increment Financing Plan, the Board also voted on other key issues settled.
Based on recommendations from Ward 4 Alderman Victor Pickich and Pass Christian Police Chief Daren Freeman, the Board voted unanimously to reduce speed limits in targeted areas around the City.
Chief Freeman offered the results of an “adequate and sufficient engineering and traffic study and made a recommendation to reduce the speed limit for portions of Espy Avenue, Menge Avenue, Cedar Avenue from 35 miles per hour (MPH) to 30 miles per hour in certain areas; portions of East Second Street from 30 MPH to 25 MPH; and portions of Espy Avenue South of the Railroad tracks from 35 MPH to 25 MPH, all in compliance with MCA Section 63-3-511”.
Chief Freeman commented that this action is separate and apart from the recently approved and updated City Golf Cart Ordinance. He cited complaints and safety concerns received from local businesses and citizens as the primary justification for reducing speed limits in the aforementioned areas.
An Emergency Declaration was approved concerning the condition of the East North Street bridge near the intersection with Morton Avenue. A recent inspection of bridges under the City’s purview found all bridges in satisfactory condition except this particular bridge.
It was determined that the unsafe condition of this bridge required immediate action, which will require the demolition and total replacement of this bridge. GC Prestress at the Industrial Park has agreed to exclude their labor for the fabrication of the bridge components and to reduce their contract price from $97,000 to $57,000.
According to City Attorney Malcolm Jones, the bridge will be closed for approximately 21 to 30 days whereby citizens will need to plan to use alternate routes accordingly. Jones estimates that the project could begin in early November 2021.
Alderman Pickich also reiterated his concerns regarding direly needed road repairs, especially at Henderson Avenue. He added, “Our streets are severely compromised.”
Ward 2 Alderwoman Regina Charlot expressed her concerns regarding the ongoing flooding that’s occurring throughout the City. She asked that a workshop be scheduled to address current and projected drainage and flooding issues.
An unnamed citizen that lives on Oak Park Drive rose and commented that up until recently, she had never had “the kind of flooding that we’re having now.” She added, “I’ve been trying to contact the mayor” to get this fixed. The mayor responded, “Flood mitigation is on our business plan for this year and we’ll look into it”.
Tom Duffy, Director of Community Development and Code Enforcement provided a brief update on Pass Estates related issues. According to an email submitted to the City by David Kelly, Agent for Chartre Consulting, Bethel Estates, North Street Villas and Pass Estates, “There were zero crews on the job last week. Since we had to dismiss the superintendent last Monday, we are seeking to hire a replacement.”
Duffy added that beginning next week, he will be meeting regularly with Hassell Wilkinson, Head of Construction for Century Construction “to insure that work is proceeding as scheduled.”
In financial matters the Board approved spending expenditures on monthly janitorial services for City Hall, Court Room, Harbor Restrooms, Police Department Public Works and Recreation Department at an annual cost of $18,720 or $1,560 per month; $530,288 to Gill’s Crane & Dozer Service of Slidell for Hurricane Zeta repairs to the East Small Craft Harbor and $345,143.45 in Claims Docket expenses.
The following agenda items were either tabled or no action was taken: the hiring of a new Accounts Payable, Purchasing Clerk and an Executive Session to discuss a personnel matter in the Code Department.
The next regularly scheduled meeting for the Pass Christian Board of Alderman is Tuesday, November 1, 2021, 6 pm at the City Auditorium/Courtroom