Parking, city recreation top Baldwyn’s June aldermen meeting

Wheeler sewer rate charges will also see an increase after Baldwyn board’s vote

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BALDWYN | Running through the agenda of June’s marathon-long meeting of the Baldwyn Board of Aldermen was like drinking through a fire hose – which might have been a welcome feature as the chamber’s air conditioner was not working properly.

Board members and an ever-dwindling number in the audience soldiered through, seeing the board make decisions on a flurry of minor items but pushing some heavier-hitting matters into the coming months.

One hot topic brought before the Board was the matter of parking downtown. Representatives of the Baldwyn Main Street Chamber asked board members for permission to purchase and place signs along Main Street reminding those parking there that spaces are primarily meant for customers, and to remind business owners and their employees of the need to park off Main Street in order to allow ample room for those doing businesses along the stretch. The matter has been a problem in the past with the chamber having periodically sent memos to business owners asking them and employees to refrain from using spaces directly on Main Street.

The discussion this month was spurred by an incident recently where a film crew in town had temporarily taken up all available spaces in town, forcing some customers to search for parking that left them a long way from the businesses they were trying to visit. One business owner said she heard from customers that they couldn’t find any parking nearby, leading them to just leave – and she did $50 of business the entire day.

It was a touchy subject, though, as another business representative asked where he was supposed to tell his employees to park, given that they were not allowed to utilize spaces either in front of or behind their business.

Board members agreed to allow the posting of the signs, which the Chamber assured them would be tasteful in design, in order to help alleviate parking issues in the future.

Summer recreation

Board members also heard from resident Terry Tyes, who asked Board members to seek ways to give children in town more recreational opportunities, especially at the city park. Tyes asked the board to consider putting up basketball goals on available poles at Latimer Park and look into improving safety at some of the park’s other features.

“I look around at the safety over at the park,” Tyes said. “Some of the swings are broken. Kids could cut a finger off on them. Just the safety of the kids is what I’m looking at. I know it takes a lot more than just putting a sidewalk to the park, but we can start doing something.”

Tyes volunteered to help put up a fence in an area of the park to help with safety. Board member Angeleque Agnew Beene agreed that the park could use some work.

“The park has become a little shallow and empty,” Beene said. “We had some things going on with kids and adults that was out of control. I am making a recommendation that we put those goals back up at the park as soon as possible.”

Board member Tonya Billips said she didn’t mind making improvements, but she also didn’t want to see good money lost to vandalism.

“I was doing a walk-through on the park and all the swings were totally gone,” Billips said. “My concern is if we put money into the park are people going to continue to destroy it?”

Beene agreed, and asked Police Chief Roy Ragin to look into what could be done to improve security at the park. Tyes added it would help if there was a director who could be over there to watch over the park it would help, and he said he also would be happy to help keep a watch on things around there as he has grandchildren who come to visit and would utilize the parks.

Wheeler sewer rates

One matter that was discussed but tabled until more information could be gathered was an increase in the charge for sewer service to Wheeler. Alderwoman Lynda Conlee said the city had been charging 67 cents per 1,000 gallons “forever,” and the board needed to consider raising that rate to $1.50 or $2 per 1,000 gallons.

City Attorney Greg Beard asked whether there was a contract in place on those charges, with City Clerk Nan Nanny stating there was, with language allowing for the contract to be changed every two years. Beard suggested the city needed to check to see if there is a cap on the percentage increase allowed per the contract, and Conlee moved for the board to increase the current fees charged to $2 per 1,000 gallons, or whatever is the maximum allowed by the existing contract.