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Drainage concerns flood Natchez board meeting

NATCHEZ — When it rains, Natchez doesn’t drain.

At the Natchez board of aldermen’s Tuesday night meeting, Alderman Rickey Gray expressed frustration that every time it rains, seemingly every street floods.

“It used to be certain streets, now it is all streets — when you drive on Martin Luther King Jr. Street and you have to stop because you have big puddles on the street, you know you have a problem,” Gray said.

The alderman said he was particularly concerned about how much water stands on Old Washington Road when rain falls.

“I had never seen so much water standing in the street, and all of those kids were standing there in the street — it looked like the water was 2-feet high,” Gray said.

Alderman Dan Dillard said he has had long-term problems with drainage in the Roselawn area.

“The streets are inundated with flooding, and some of these things are going to be more difficult than just cleaning out the silt collection boxes (in the drains),” Dillard said. “Some of these (drains) have roots growing into them.”

Alderman Tony Fields said he has similar drainage problems in his district, and long-term drainage issues will eventually result in road damage and new potholes in the roads.

Gray said some of the drainage problems can be attributed to people who blow grass cuttings or trash into drainage structures, and he asked City Attorney Hyde Carby if the city could amend its ordnance barring such actions to include a financial penalty. Fields likewise asked if the city’s environmental court could be used for such ticketing purposes.

Carby said because the ordinance against blocking drains already lists such actions as a general misdemeanor, it can carry a $1,000 fine and 90-day jail sentence.

In other news:

-Dillard said the aldermen need to meet to discuss what obligations the city will take on in the future if it is to continue to lease city-owned properties to third parties.

Of particular concern is the Margaret Martin Performing Arts Center, he said, which has a significant roof leak.

“If you don’t have a roof, you really don’t have a building or you are not going to have one for long,” Dillard said. “It is one of those things that doesn’t get better, it only gets worse, and just like you can hear the thunder and know the rain is coming, there are some significant problems (coming) with that building and the roof on it.”

-The aldermen heard from a landowner who said that the Stonehurst townhouse construction was affecting water flow in the area, sending runoff onto a neighboring property.

City Building Inspector Fred Galler said he had been to the property and that while the Stonehurst builders had constructed a retaining wall to stop the water flow, water was running around the wall onto the adjoining property.

The builders had agreed to address the issue further, but needed permission from the adjoining landowner to enter the property, Galler said.

The neighboring landowners have given their permission, Fields said.

Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis, who acted as mayor pro-tem at the meeting, said the aldermen would meet again March 4 and would at that time get further information about the matter.

-The aldermen voted at the request of Information Technology Director Eric Junkin to make a payment of $20,800 for the upgrade of computer systems at the Natchez Police Department.

The payment is the first of four, which will be made over the course of two years.

-The aldermen voted to reappoint Benny Wright to the Natchez-Adams County School District’s board of trustees.

-The aldermen opened and took under advisement bids for the recarpeting of the Natchez Convention Center.

The apparent low bid for the project came from J&J Carpet at $41,926.40, and the apparent high bid came from Dunn Construction at $54,440.

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