Granite Shoals OKs purchase of four lots for new water tower

Quarry Park restroom to be upgraded

Granite Shoals City Council approved the purchase of four lots across from the city’s water plant for a new water tank. The council also learned during its May 12 meeting of work being done at the city’s parks, including upgrades to the Quarry Park restroom (pictured). Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro

Granite Shoals City Council found a spot for its new water tank, approving spending $27,500 to purchase four lots.

The city plans to build a 350,000-gallon water tank to replace the current 150,000-gallon tank. During its May 12 meeting, the City Council gave the thumbs-up for buying the lots on Blue Briar, which are across the street from the city’s water treatment facility.

City Manager Jeff Looney said the land was sold “below market value.”

City leaders want to construct the new water tower while keeping the existing tower intact until the new one is completed and operational. Looney noted the land that holds the current water tower isn’t large enough to accommodate both. 

Voters approved a $7 million water bond during the November 2019 election. Funding for the new water tower was included in the bond.

The council also approved a new general fee schedule that reflects an increase of costs for items such as plumbing, right-of-way fees, voluntary surrender fees for animals, fire code inspections, rental fees for public buildings, fire hydrant meter rental fees, and meter accuracy testing.

Looney said the increases come down to one thing.

“Any increases are directly the result of costs measures,” he said, meaning they’re increases given to the city, which are now being passed on to the customer.

In some instances, these are the first costs increases in two years, which are effective now.

Looney noted these increases weren’t recommended without research, examination, and plenty of thought. The goal was to be fair to the customer in charging the appropriate fee and not burden taxpayers with the increases, which was happening, the city manager said.

“We’ve actually been working on them since the fall of 2019,” he said. “We were trying to make sure we cover the basis of everything.”

Looney also told the council the city has collected $5,000 from boat launch fees dating to February.

“We’ve already collected more money than all of 2018 and 2019 from each of those years collected, which was (more than) $4,000,” he said.

That revenue will go back to the parks department’s fund for improvements, including painting and updating the restroom at Blue Briar Park and determining if the Timber Hill Park restroom can be opened to the public. While the facility at Blue Briar Park received a power wash and new paint, the restroom at Timber Hill is more of a challenge. It has been closed to the public for more than 20 years, and no one can tell staff why, Looney said. Street and parks department workers have been examining the commodes and septic system to see what needs to be fixed with the goal of preparing it for public use.

The council also:

  • approved an administrative services contract with Langford Community Services Inc. for $35,000, which was a requirement for a possible $350,000 state block grant for damage in the October 2018 flood. If the city doesn’t get the grant, the administrative fee is dropped.
  • approved ending the practice of sending a second notice to residents who don’t pay their water bills by the 10th of each month;
  • authorized the city manager to determine when to reopen City Hall to the public. Looney said he doesn’t want to open the facility to the public before Monday, June 1, and is monitoring COVID-19 cases in the area.
  • learned four residents had applied for the Place 5 council seat vacated by Todd Holland after he moved outside the city limits. The council will interview the four candidates during a 6 p.m. meeting Tuesday, May 19, at City Hall.
  • heard about upgrades to the Quarry Park restroom.

jfierro@thepicayune.com

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