City board debates $1 million grant

Board given options where funds could be spent

by Danny Wade

The city of Humboldt is looking into revamping its parks using grant funds. During the March 3 city board meeting, board members acted on a resolution to apply for the grant and were given two options of how to use the funds.

Mayor Marvin Sikes announced during the meeting the city has been looking into this parks grant for some time.

Marvin Sikes

The city is applying for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation for the Local Parks and Recreations Program/LPRF grant for park improvements. The grant is for $1 million with a 50/50 match, meaning the city would have to fund $500,000 and receive $500,000 through the grant.

The board approved the application for the grant.
Humboldt Parks & Recreation Director Jeff Graves explained the grant process to members of the board. He said this grant is available every two years.

Graves said the advisory board performed a survey and received well over 100 survey forms from the citizens rating the parks. Four parks, Bailey, Spangler, 6th Street and Viking parks were identified. Bailey Park would receive the bulk of the funds since that is used the most of all city parks, Graves noted.

Mayor Sikes said the city’s budget next year could afford to fund the matching portion since some current grants will be finished.
“Financially we’ll be good to go,” Sikes explained. “It won’t put us in a bind financially. This is a great opportunity to improve our parks.”

Board member Donna Johnson suggested some of the funds be used to tear down the restrooms at Viking Park and build a pavilion with restrooms facilities.

Donna Johnson

Sikes noted that renovations would be done at all four parks.

Graves said much of the work done has to do with ADA (American Disabilities Act) improvements. Those improvements will have to be done regardless of the grant for accessibility. This grant would take care of many of the parks’ needs to be ADA compliant.
Travis Moore presented the board with two options for using the grand funds.

Option 1 funneled the majority of the funds to Bailey Park. Work there would include sidewalks, a splash pad, utilities and lighting, resurfacing and border for the playground, new playground equipment, resurfacing the parking lot, and renovating the community center building.

6th Street Park would include resurfacing and borders for the playground, and sidewalks and striping.

Spangler Park updates would be similar to 6th Street with playground resurfacing and borders, and sidewalks.

Option 2 distributes funding to include Viking Park and the Downtown Park. Bailey Park would still receive more of the funding.

At Bailey Park, the splash pad is removed from Option 1, as is utilities and lighting, and replaced with resurfacing the walking trail.

Spangler Park would include everything in Option 1 while adding renovations to the restrooms.

The same goes for 6th Street with all Option 1 projects and restroom renovations.

At Viking Park, restroom renovations are the only upgrade.

Downtown improvements at the parking lot behind the library and beside BancorpSouth are part of Option 2. Mayor Sikes said this was his wish-list. It would include a pavilion, demolition, sidewalks and parking, grading and sod, and utilities and lighting.

Moore noted that money designated for playground equipment at Bailey Park could be used at any of the parks.

Board member Don Graves likes the idea of having a splash pad. He noted in summertime is get very hot. The city has no swimming pool and kids need a place to cool off, Graves said.

With these two options being presented to the board, it was discussed whether to hold a vote and select one option or wait until the next meeting to allow the board to weigh each option.

Mayor Sikes was disappointed in the way these options were thrown on the board, noting they were not part of the agenda. The agenda item was to review and adopt the city’s park master plans.

“We could sit here all night long dissecting these plans,” the mayor said.

Alderman McNeal suggested tabling the master plan and Mayor Sikes agreed. Sikes suggested holding a called meeting since approving an option is part of the master plan. The parks master plan is the first step in applying for the grant.

Leon McNeal

“We’ve been working on this for six year, our parks,” McNeal said. “We don’t want to mess this up.”

The board voted to table approving the parks master plan.

In other board action:

•The board approved a resolution supporting an application for Fasttrack Infrastructure Development Program Funds. Mayor Sikes said this is applying for a grant for $14 million utility grant to provide sewer for the Gibson County Industrial Park where Tyson Foods will locate.

Sikes said this is a state grant. He noted the state is “bending over backwards” assisting and that more money would be coming down from the state.

•Three beer permits were approved.

Savannah Leigh King applied for an on-site consumption beer permit, operating as 3 Doerr’s Down located on East End Drive in Humboldt.

Larry Johnson applied for on on-site consumption permit for Kitty Kat Lounge located at the Crossing on Front St.

Keith L. Wardlow applied for an on-site beer consumption at Wardlow’s Lounge, also located at the Crossing on Front St.

•Aldermen heard from Humboldt police regarding the regulation on beer licenses and the distance from public parks, schools, churches, etc.

Alderman Bob Pruett motioned to hear the police department’s opinion, which was approved.

Mayor Sikes noted the city’s ordinance states no on-site consumption of beer may be within 500 ft. from public parks, public playgrounds, schools or churches.

In a letter from Interim Chief Reynard Buchanan included in the board’s agenda packet, Chief Buchanan’s opinion was there should not be a change in the distance.

Bob Pruett

Pruett said he had researched the ordinance, which had been changed from 300 ft. to 500 ft. He suggested the ordinance should revert to 300 ft. distance.

Graves asked why?

Pruett said there are establishments that used to bars that can’t be bars now.

“To me this is a dead situation,” McNeal said. “I’m not going to vote to put anything in front of our schools, our parks, our museums or our churches. I’d be a hypocrite if I support that. I can’t support that.”

The board approved to accept the police department’s opinion to stay at 500 ft. Pruett voted against the opinion.

•The board approved purchasing a 2018 Chrysler Durango for $27,223 for the fire department through the state contract.

•The board accepted the resignation/retirement of Diane Wright as director of the Humboldt Public Library. Graves noted Wright had done an exceptional job for 13 years.

•Mayor Sikes presented an update on the city inspector position.

“John Morrison has done a great job as inspector and all the other things he has done for the city,” Sikes said. “John has given his all as inspector and such duties.”

Sikes referred to the city’s charter saying the board serves as inspectors. Sikes added that the city hires someone to perform those duties. The charter also states the inspector must be certified and licensed by the state.

Don Graves

Morrison is not currently licensed or certified but Mayor Sikes said the city is covered by having Ricky Bailey for Gibson County as inspector.

Mayor Sikes suggested hiring someone with the state for electrical and building inspector. He added that Tyson and other commerce coming in, the permits alone would pay for the position.

Graves noted Morrison is one of the city’s highest paid employees, earning more than firemen or policemen. Graves suggested since Morrison is good at rescue, he should be a fireman or policeman. He’s good at that, Graves said.

Sikes said his recommendation to hire someone licensed and certified would be a future agenda item. Sikes said Morrison is a valued employee and the city could find another position for him.

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