Laurel City Council

Members of the Laurel City Council meet at Laurel City Hall this week to handle city business.

The City of Laurel will receive some additional grant funding for the city’s Daphne Park Tennis Court Project.

The Laurel City Council unanimously agreed on Wednesday to adopt a resolution authorizing the amended project agreement for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Outdoor Recreation Program Grant. The grant is designed to improve the tennis facilities at Daphne Park. The project, which is ongoing, was approved in 2019.

According to city documents, the Council in an order on March 19, 2019 accepted a grant from the Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks to improve the recreational facilities at Daphne Park.

Initially, the project was estimated to cost $450,000 and would include the design and reconstruction of five tennis courts along with other improvements. The state grant, which requires a 50-50 match, was originally for $175,000 and the city’s matching funds were estimated at $175,000.

The city was later notified by MDWFP that an additional $50,000 was available for the project, bringing the total amount of the grant to $225,000 with required matching funds of $225,000. Officials said a portion of the project was expected to be completed through in-kind construction labor provided by the City of Laurel’s Parks Department, which would have resulted in significant cost savings.

Whitney Pickering, who works with the city on the grant, told those attending this week’s meeting that due to circumstances beyond the city’s control the city needed to secure a modified agreement with MDWFP.

City officials said the original cost of the project increased due to unforeseen circumstances, including COVID-19 and the increase in the cost of material. Now, officials said the state has granted the city a modified agreement with a time extension and funding increase for the project. Pickering said the project remains in its original scope but due to COVID-19 pandemic and the increased material costs and hiring labor for the pro-shop, the final cost estimates for the project was impacted.

Officials said the revised estimated cost of the project is now at $639,517.31 with MDWFP funds in the amount of $317,638 and the city’s matching funds will be $317,638.

In other business, the council set July 6 th as the date for public hearings on a number of parcels in the city that may be a danger to public safety. The number of parcels presented for consideration is in excess of 50.

The council met Wednesday evening in the City Council Chambers at Laurel City Hall instead of its normal Tuesday meeting time. Officials said this was a one-time change due to the municipal elections, which were conducted on Tuesday.

Also Wednesday, the council heard concerns from residents during the Citizens Forum Portion of the meeting. Also, during that time, Ward Four Councilman George Carmichael talked about social media and how it has caused some concerns recently in the city.

In a separate matter, the council approved travel for City Clerk Mary Ann Hess to attend the IIMC Mid-Year Board Meeting in Riverside, California on October 21-25, 2021. Officials said since Hess is an officer of the group, it will not cost the city any money.

In other business, the city adopted a resolution approving FY 2021 Semi Annual Bids effective for July 1, 2021 through December 31, 2021; and adopted an order for accepting bids for surplus properties.