Clarksdale has $5 million following the approval of a bond issue by voters and they are trying to leverage that to pay for projects that could total over $25 million.
The city hosted regional, state and federal officials and agencies Tuesday in a meeting aimed at explain the city’s needs and lining up possible grants and programs that could assist in giving Clarkdale flood relief and construct several high-dollar infrastructure projects.
“Our problems exceed $5 million and we need your help,” Clarksdale Mayor Chuck Espy told those elected officials and agency directors at their noon meeting at Coahoma Community College. “We would like to leverage our bond issue fund five of even six times.”
Clarksdale voters said ‘yes’ to a $5 million bond issue Aug. 6 that will see the city rebuild a bridge, mitigate flooding problems, install lighting and repair streets.
The final tally saw 1,320 city residents vote for the bond issue and 675 votes against it for a 66/34 percent margin.
“People in Clarksdale put their money where their mouth is,” said Teresa Jones, Clarksdale Grant Writer and Director of Economic Development in speaking to the group. “They have bought in and shown how important these projects are to them.”
The city prioritized five projects totaling $8.25 million. However, after allowing for $3 million in funding from the Mississippi Department of Transportation and a $300,000 Community Development Block Grant, the city’s share would be $4.91 million.
The referendum has been tagged “Building for the Future” with city leaders pointing out this is an investment that will reap immediate rewards.
Building for the Future projects include
1. Replace Second Street Bridge: $3,800,000.
2. Sasse Street drainage: $800,000.
3. Pearson Street levee or pump: $2,025,000
4. Sidewalks/Lighting: $1.1 million.
5. Street rehabilitation: $500,000.
6. Friars Point Road Bridge: $3,600,000.
Projects are listed by priority and Friars Point would be added if fund become available through possible grants.
Engineer Vince Malavasi, of Neel-Schaffer said the Second Street Bridge is the most heavily traveled in Clarksdale and is more than 80 years old. He said the bridge was cited by the state for major repairs two years ago and load rated to only four tons.
Malavasi said flood control studies show many flood prone areas of the city are under a “two-year storm” level meaning the area would experience flooding about every two years. He said most project are designed for a 10-year storm for a storm that causes flooding every ten years.
Malavasi said most flash flooding concerns could be handled with larger drainage pipe and storm sewers. He said flood prevention along the Sunflower River would have to be addressed with levees and pumps – both of which are very expensive.
Agency leaders at Tuesday’s meeting said twice the city’s two year timeline seems tight. Concerns were also voiced the city might be better suited seeking 30-year, low interest federal loans and carefully picking which projects they wanted to fund.
Those gathered at Tuesday’s meeting included:
• James Curcio, Exec-utive Director for North Delta Planning & Development District.
• Darrell Dixon, Program Specialist for North Delta Planning & Development District.
• Myles Russell, Field Representative for Senator Roger Wicker.
• Bill Crump, Field Representative for Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith.
• Johnny McGlown, Commissioner of the Yazoo Mississippi Delta Levee District.
• Bruce Cook, Chief Engineer of the Yazoo Mississippi Delta Levee District.
• Paul Pearson, Coa-homa County Dist. 1 Supervisor.
• Derrell Washington, Coahoma County Dist. 3 Supervisor.
• Roosevelt Lee, Coa-homa County Dist. 5 Supervisor elect.
• Kemp Morgan, Dir-ector of Project Develop-ment for Delta Regional Authority.
• Mitch Turner, District Engineer for Mississippi Department of Transpor-tation.
• Steve Hardin, Director of Community Services for Mississippi Development Authority.
• Kristen Chancellor, Manager Community Development Bureau for Mississippi Development Authority.
• Melanie Balducci, Loan Specialist for USDA Rural Development.
• Jon Levingston, Executive Director of the Clarksdale/Coahoma County Industrial Development Foundation.
• Bill Boschert, General Manager of Clarksdale Public Utility.
• Cedric Burnett, Mississippi Representative Dist. 9.
• Robert Jackson, Miss-issippi Senate Dist. 11.
• Ed Seals, Clarksdale Commissioner Ward 4.
• Willie Turner, Clarks-dale Commissioner Ward 3.
• Ken Murphy, Clarks-dale Commissioner Ward 2.
• Bo Plunk, Clarksdale Commissioner Ward 1.
• Teresa Jones, Clarks-dale Grant Writer and Director of Economic Development.
• Melvin Miller, City Board Attorney.
• Cathy Clark, Clarks-dale City Clerk.