Letter to editor – Wilbourn 8/4/2015

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Resident concerned about piecemeal approach to Como sidewalk rehab

I want to express concern about the outcome of the called board meeting on Wednesday, July 22. 

Several months ago Karen Mayer offered, on behalf of Como Main Street Alliance (CMSA), to apply for a grant to put new sidewalks downtown, just as Senatobia and Sardis have done.
(Editor’s note: Senatobia’s sidewalks were 80 percent funded by a grant; Sardis’ were funded by tourism tax proceeds.)

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The town would be asked to use our tourism tax money to supplement what the grant would not cover.

Even if the grant was turned down, CMSA had plans that could be used to determine what should have been fixed first, and they would have had a reasonable idea how much each stage would cost  

However, the board chose to spend $19,500 (I believe that amount is correct though it may be more or less) to take care of the decaying sidewalks.  At the time several people questioned whether $19,500 would be able to cover the job that was needed.

One board member assured the audience that he had seen the plans and the contractor was going to do a first rate job that was compliant with ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) specifications, and our sidewalk problem would be fixed.

I was dumbfounded to see that only the area from the sidewalks to the curb was replaced, not actual sidewalks, and the only real wheelchair access is in front of 211 Main!  At the steakhouse end and the bank end, the steep incline of the driveways would make it difficult to use those access points by a wheelchair.

Then last week the board voted to spend another $21,000 to patch 12 places where the sidewalk is crumbling. Now the town will be spending approximately $40,500 to have the curbside concrete poured and 12 squares of sidewalk patched, and we still will not have new sidewalks.

What a disappointing example of failing to plan well when the design for the complete project was offered to you by CMSA!! 

It is amazing to learn that the work is being done by a plumbing company.  Is the company licensed and bonded for the work they are doing?  I hope so.

If they aren’t, and they damage any store fronts or windows, the board members who voted to hire them for this job open themselves up to legal action. (CMSA would have insisted on hiring qualified licensed and bonded contractors.) 

I appreciate those who serve, and when I speak at meetings, I hope I do it in a way that reflects that, but when I disagree, I have a right and a responsibility to voice my concern in an orderly manner.

Margaret Wilbourn