City of Batesville board

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 20, 2013

Saving history, netting grants

By John Howell Sr.

Batesville’s mayor and aldermen during their Tuesday meeting first set a special Thursday meeting for consideration of an ordinance to establish an historic preservation commission, then cancelled it when the certainty of a quorum could not be determined.

North Delta Planning and Development representative Lillian Morris spoke to city officials along with Mendrop Engineering technician Lauralee Gann, requesting that the ordinance be adopted as the main requirement for the city to become a certified local government (CLG) by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. Morris had also appeared before city officials in August with Batesville Main Street Manager Colleen Clark to urge them to move quickly toward becoming a CLG.

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The certification allows the city to qualify for grants related to historic preservation.

“I was in Durant yesterday, and they’re redoing their depot because they got some money from this,” Alderman Stan Harrison said.

“That’s right, there’s a good bit of money with being a certified local,” Gann said.

Becoming a CLG under the National Historic Preservation Act would allow the municipal government to become a partner with the federal and state governments in preserving structures and neighborhoods of historic significance, according to the language of the proposed ordinance. Adopting the ordinance would require establishment of a historic preservation commission that would review changes proposed for property within the defined historic district and protect the historical integrity of properties through regulation.

The historic district was defined in 2003 to include the Square, Panola Avenue, Church Street, and portions of Van Voris and Eureka Street.

At the start of Tuesday’s meeting only three aldermen were in attendance — Harrison, Teddy Morrow and Bill Dugger. The three agreed to a Thursday special meeting, but later during the Tuesday agreed to postpone the meeting until they could be more certain of a quorum.

Alderman Ted Stewart’s arrival at Tuesday meeting had been delayed by a tire blowout as he drove from Memphis pulling a trailer between two 18-wheelers on an interstate highway.

“I’m just glad it wasn’t a front tire,” Stewart said on his arrival.

Alderman Eddie Nabors arrived about the time the meeting was over. Nabors’ wife, Erin,  had suffered painful injuries in an auto accident near Jackson last week. Nabors said that he had been involved with getting his wife settled in at home where she had returned for further recuperation.

In other city business involving the engineering dept.:

• City Engineer Blake Mendrop said that the repaving of Country Club Drive had been completed, the final street scheduled for the 2013 paving season. The street was added to the schedule when funds remained from the $370,000 originally appropriated for the city’s summer repaving program;

• Clearing will start within two weeks to allow construction of the connector road between Pine Lodge Road and House-Carlson Drive;

• The engineering dept. is awaiting quotes for the paving of another connector road south of Zaxby’s between House-Carlson and Convention Center Drive;

• Contractor Delta Water had nearly finished with installation of automated water meters on the first route of city water customers. The 150 new meters will still be read manually until installation is completed on all 3,500 of the city’s water meters by the first of the year;

• The engineering dept. is awaiting specifications for construction of a retaining wall to be constructed between Fire Station Number 2 and Uptown Storage now under construction on Woodland Road;

• Mendrop engineering technician Gann asked aldermen to adopt the same standards throughout the historic district for lighting and irrigation systems as has been selected for the downtown Square renovation project. Aldermen approved her request 3-0;

• Aldermen also approved closing certain streets on the Square for weekend activities Oct. 4 and 5 and use of the Square for the Oct. 26 third annual “Scare on the Square.