Thursday, December 8, 2011
Main Street asks for long-term lease
By SUE WATSON
Andy McMillon and John Hargrove are thinking long term about how to make something useful out of the old Powerhouse and waterworks building on East Falconer Street.
McMillon, president of the Holly Springs Main Street Board of Directors, asked the Holly Springs Board of Aldermen for a lease, pending a structural study. Hargrove asked to apply for a Brownsfield grant which would include taking a look at the Powerhouse building.
Hargrove said if there is a perception the building may be environmentally unsafe, the Brownsfield grant can help with the assessment. Money could also follow for economic redevelopment in the area of Falconer.
He suggested the city get ready now for an application for next October.
McMillon said he has no definition of how long a long-term the lease should be but suggested 99 years with a smile.
“I’ll shoot for the moon,” he quipped.
Alderman Russell Johnson wanted to know how long Main Street would want to lease the building and could the lease be reversed by the city.
For now, Main Street envisions using the space for housing for the association, the chamber of commerce and the tourism office, McMillon said. Part of the structure would house a conference center and the east end could be demolished to make room for parking tour buses, he said.
He clarified, “This is not something to be owned by the Main Street Association. One plan is to make the park more accessible.”
“You’d pay us a leasing fee?” asked Mayor Andre’ DeBerry.
“I got a dollar in my pocket,” McMillon said.
Holly Springs Utility Department general manager Don Hollingsworth said research for the deed to the property years back did not turn up that the city ever owned the property.
He asked Hargrove if a grant would require the city to provide matching funds.
Hargrove said there is no match requirement for an assessment grant. His company is a private company that works to get grants through the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality to clean up blighted areas and revitalize properties.
Alderman Harvey Payne asked how Main Street would have authority to work on the project. DeBerry said Main Street has its own bylaws and authority but works with cities. The funds would come from the Environmental Protection Agency and the city would put out a request for qualifications.
Hargrove said his company could come in on the front end with an RFQ (request for qualifications) to write the grant or on the back end if the grant is awarded.
“Typically we do on the front end,” the mayor said about grant applications.
“I have asked you for a commitment and I haven’t heard one,” said McMillon.
With that, the mayor said the city is looking at options to develop Spring Hollow Park and has a rough plan to begin the work with leftover funds from the Memphis Street and Martin Street projects – over $340,000 on hand.
He passed out a plan that would call for blocking off Park Avenue at Memphis Street and Spring Street. The old sanitation building would be kept and converted into public restrooms and the trail at Spring Hollow Park would be expanded southward up the hill to become a play area for children. The proposal includes a couple of water pools. The city could make an offer on the New York Fashions building and open up the park on the south end as shown in Main Street’s planning charrettes.
DeBerry said the city has until July 2012 to obligate the leftover grant monies.
With discussion concluded, the mayor asked for a motion to approve the concept of developing the building for a tourism center. The board approved the motion unanimously.
Afterward, Willie Wilkerson asked to pass out a petition to the board that held over 200 signatures. The petition called for renaming North Center Street from College Avenue to Park Avenue after the late bluesman R.L. Burnside. The citizen’s initiative would also recommend to the city to rename Falconer from Randolph Street to Alderson Street in the memory of the late bluesman David Junior Kimbrough Sr.
Afterward, the mayor and board rehashed the pros and cons of a study that proposed the city use bonding authority and seek a local and private bill to fund a $13.21 million street and sidewalk plan. After two hours of back and forth discussion, the mayor received a motion from alderman Calvin James to move forward on the plan. The motion died for lack of a second.
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