December 19, 2013 9:46:47 AM
Carl Smith - [email protected]
Aldermen approved the lowest bid -- Hattiesburg-based Precision Construction's almost-$700,000 offer -- Tuesday, which clears the way for concreting efforts to begin along Carver Drive's drainage ditch.
The city was under a previous board order reached in February to concrete the channel's bottom and sides for up to $175,000. Although the motion approved Tuesday is for a $677,000 project, only a maximum of $50,000 will come from Starkville coffers. A rotating capital improvements loan, Mayor Parker Wiseman said at the board table, will cover a majority of the project's expenses.
Ward 6 Alderman Roy A. Perkins, who led the charge on Carver Drive ditch solutions in the past years, found majority support at the table Tuesday for the project. Only Ward 1 Alderman Ben Carver and Ward 4 Alderman Jason Walker voted against the measure.
Following the meeting, Perkins said a "time of essence" provision was written into the Precision contract, and he hopes work concludes by the end of summer. The board's senior alderman also thanked Wiseman and the four supportive aldermen for their commitment and leadership in regard to finding a Carver Drive ditch solution.
"We look forward to this work being done, and the residents will be very proud of the work once it is done. We never gave up faith, we fought a good fight and we knew it was coming; it was just a matter of when. With our faith, trust and our belief, this matter has come to a reality," Perkins said following the meeting. "The project is one that has been a very slow and tedious process, but at least we have made it to the finish line. It will help eliminate the health, safety and welfare hazards that are associated with the foul odors and smells produced (from the ditch). This vote tonight represents another great chapter in our city's history."
Walker, along with a hydrology expert, took aim at the project in previous meetings, saying the current plan would not solve all of Carver Drive's issues on a long-term basis. Also, the creation of a V-shaped, concreted ditch could create safety problems during flash flooding. The landscape architect then asked aldermen to wait on making a decision in order to study alternative solutions.
"There's no question work needs to be done there, but...for this amount of money -- without our $50,000 -- we could address this problem in a much more, I believe, effective way that would not create a health or safety issue. We have the opportunity to address it with an alternative solution by going all the way up to Jackson Street to fix the (drainage) problem at its source and not have to deal with it mid-way downstream," Walker said. "I'm afraid this decision tonight is going to solve a very short-term problem ... while creating a long-term problem of continuing that drainage issue further downstream.
"It's going to cost the city significantly more funds, and I'm not sure where we'll pull those from," he added.
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch