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12/21/2019

Judge Nelson Asks City to Close Part of Chickasawba

 

When speaking on agenda items, Mississippi County Judge John Alan Nelson presented to the Blytheville City Council a request to close a section of Chickasawba Street as part of the new Mississippi County courthouse landscaping plans.

Nelson explained,"We've all been aware that this building is going to move from this facility to another one across town. What we want to do is center this area and put in place some landscaping artwork and building design that would be a tremendous increase to this part of the city."

Nelson continued, "I'll say this and I haven't spoken to the mayor about but when y'all do leave this facility, the county may be interested in coming to an arrangement to where we can come to with this street since you're not using this building. It's just an idea I think we can all maybe talk about."

Councilwoman Barbara McAdoo Brothers said, "After we had our first meeting with the railroad, the mayor approached me and said he knew nothing about the movement of Chickasawba to incorporate the landscaping, then you approached me about three weeks ago and said the original plan did not have the use of Chickasawba and then when the mayor had informed you we were closing it then you hired an additional $200,000 in landscaping to make this feasible. Then I said to you that day, because I didn't know if we were going to close the railroad crossings at Chickasawba or Cherry since we as a committee have not decided that, 'If we do not close that, will that change your direction with the courthouse in any way' and you said 'absolutely not it made no difference whatsoever.' So what has changed, what is the difference between what you told me that day and what you're telling us today?"

Nelson responded, "Let me add some clarity to that, it wont. I don't think there's any reason to close the crossing right there, it won't make any difference."

Brothers asked, "Not the crossing but you're wanting to close the block?"

"The landscape across it, that's correct and it didn't add an additional $250,000, it just made that landscaping project in totality $250,000," said Nelson.

Brothers asked,"So what you're saying is you cannot drive through from the railroad tracks to First Street? You cannot cross through that with your new plan.

"No, you can," said Nelson.

"You can drive through it? Would it be like a parking lot?" Brothers asked.

Judge Nelson then presented a layout of the landscaping plans to the council.

"It won't be straight through, we have a parking lot there," he said.

"You would have to veer through the parking lot to get across, we're blocking off the cap end of it?" Brothers responded.

"Yes that's correct," the county judge said.

"Our ward did not want Chickasawba closed at all, we would need to go back to the people in our ward to see if that plan would work," Brothers said.

"There was some information I wasn't privy to that I should've done in the beginning, I didn't know who had jurisdiction of that street. I should've initially came and spoke with y'all it was a very fast paced time with the design phase, maybe that's where we should've started in the beginning."

"It wasn't something that was set in stone from him or myself because I am well aware that I have to bring all of this before the council before they approve to lose anything," said Mayor James Sanders.

"Since this belongs to the taxpayers we can't give it away," said Brothers.

Councilman Matt Perrin said, "This is a closure; this is turning the street into a parking lot, and I appreciate you saying we should've started elsewhere. It just created a whole lot of unnecessary tension because we started hearing that the city was giving the county Chickasawba from word on the street and we're all here thinking it belongs to the citizens of Blytheville. I'm not opposed to it but that's just where a lot of the tension came from. I would be willing to consider this in January once we got some clarity from our city attorney because if I can recall any property worth $20,000 or more needs to go out to bid and we need to accept the highest bid."

City attorney Chris Brown said, "Generally, we do but there probably is going to be some exceptions for giving it to a government entity so I'll look into that."

"We need to talk to the people in our ward and in our city as well because basically you're giving up Chickasawba," said Brothers.

The council approved nine resolutions:

- A resolution authorizing a contract with Ritter Communications for internet service at skycop locations;

- A resolution authorizing the city to fund the old firemen's pension fund;

- A resolution authorizing the condemnation of 10 structures;

- A resolution to amend the 2019 budget;

- A resolution providing for the adoption of the 2020 budget;

- A resolution appointing Joseph Fondren to the Baseball Facilities Commission;

- Two resolutions appointing Lea Speight and Leslie Wells to the Ritz Commission;

- A resolution authorizing payment of $40,000 to the Blytheville Municipal Airport.