Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Mayor Frank Melton's home street of Riverwood Drive, in north Jackson, is getting repaved this week, just a few weeks after a reporter pointed out a pothole to the mayor at a press conference outside his home at 2 Carter's Grove.
The street paving budget is aching, with need far outweighing resources. The 2005-06 city budget called for $511,000 for street repairs. Administrative Services Director Rick Hill said this year's budget bumps street repaving up to $1.8 million.
Hinds County supervisors approved a $30 million bond that will partly go to repaving some city streets. Supervisors announced that almost $500,000 is going to re-paving Ridgewood and Meadowbrook Roads, in north Jackson, but Supervisor Charles Barbour said the county might devote over $1 million now that he killed the $2.5 million purchase of the Mississippi Valley Title Building.
Ward 6 Councilman Marshand Crisler complained that the system for selecting streets to be re-paved is broken. "The system doesn't work like it used to," he said.
Former Mayor Harvey Johnson used a rating system based on the condition of the street to determine priority. "We tried to take the politics out of it by going through an evaluation system," Johnson said.
Public Works Director Thelman Boyd said the city still uses Johnson's system but has tweaked it with a squeaky-wheel-gets-the-oil-approach. "When the mayor came on, he wanted the council members … to have more input into the list, so we ... provided those council members with (the) ratings, and the council members select the streets based on complaints they got from citizens. We also have (public works employees) going out and doing surveys. They have their recommendations, and we put them all together," Boyd said.
Ward 3 Councilman Leslie McLemore confirmed that public works devises a priority list and "runs it by a council person," but added that the council member is rarely able to pick and choose.
"The city says, 'This is our priority list in your ward. Do you have any feedback?' But then, we have so little money and so many streets to pave that the process at that level is fairly systematic. They say, 'We have your three streets, what do you think, yes or no,' and you say, 'Hell, go ahead and pave them because we need something done now.' That's sort of been the rhythm," McLemore said.
Boyd denied that the mayor's street got preferential treatment. "I thought I might get that reaction (when we started paving it), but Riverwood has been on the list a while," Boyd said.
Riverwood Drive was a dream compared to numerous streets that are in his area. That's always been a level road with little damage in the way of potholes. Take Atkins/Colonial Circle, it has portions that are about to wash into the ditch next to the golf course. I guess it will take that along with the lawsuit that goes with it before public works gets to it. But, the mayors street has been on the list for years! O RLY! So, have a number of streets! It must be raining, my leg is getting wet!
I found this interesting. The 2006 Resurfacing list. (pdf) I guess the mayor's road is on the 2007 list which isn't available on the new website. This list was "updated" 13/1/2007, as seen on this News page on the new website. Boyd denied that the mayor’s street got preferential treatment. “I thought I might get that reaction (when we started paving it), but Riverwood has been on the list a while,” Boyd said. O RLY? The 2006 list doesn't seem to reflect that. The old city website (look quick, this will all change now that I've pointed thsi out) shows that the 2006 Resurface List was updated Feb. 20, 2007! And here is the pdf list of the 2006 Resurfacing List on the new City web-page. Yet, it was modified Sept. 14, 2006 according tot he Public Works section of the website. So, what's the story? I don't see Riverwood on any list they have on any web-page old or new. I have saved screen shots of everything so we will know when they make their changes. The lack of consistency among these pages is suspect. This doesn't pass the smell test, even if his road is on the "2007" list. Statements aren't adding up. If he was on a past list, why wasn't he on the 2006 list if his road got passed over in years before?