By GALEN HOLLEY
Purchasing new city vehicles, condemning a property on Royal Oak Drive and a presentation about a convention center topped the agenda of the Grenada City Council on Monday.
According to City Manager Charles “Jo Jo” Weathers, the city gained a surplus of $116,000 from auctioning old vehicles and equipment.
“We had a bulldozer, a couple of dump trucks and some other equipment,” Weathers said after the meeting.
The city will purchase four new vehicles for the water department and four new Chevy Tahoe SUVs for the police department, Weathers said.
The SUVs will be a bit of a change for police. Many officers drive Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptors, but the company stopped making them in 2011.
“I had some concerns about the Tahoe, because I thought it would be top-heavy, but I talked to Highway Patrol personnel and they told me the Tahoe makes a fine police vehicle,” said Weathers.
The city will also purchase one new vehicle for the street department, Weathers said.
Mayor Billy Collins said after the meeting that he supported Weathers’s decision to purchase the vehicles.
“It’s been a while since we’ve purchased new police vehicles, and our officers put an awful lot of miles on them,” said Collins.
Weathers added that the water department dispatches its vehicles to as many as five counties to work on water lines, thus racking up a lot of miles.
Ward Three Councilman Lewis Johnson made the motion to allow Weathers to purchase the vehicles, seconded by Ward Two Councilman Frederick Wilson. The vote was unanimous.
The board voted unanimously to condemn a house at 1246 Royal Oak Drive.
“We can’t get any response or cooperation from the owners,” said Grenada Code Compliance Officer Sonny Ammons, adding that the city had been trying to make headway on communicating with the owners for three years.
According to tax rolls, the house last belonged to Harry Gigler Guckert.
Ammons said the house has mildew inside it, and a tree recently fell on it.
“It’s a health hazard. It’s dangerous and unsanitary,” said Ammons. He recommended condemning the property, thus giving the owner 30 days to rehabilitate it or the city would demolish it.
“I’m all for keeping structures on the tax rolls, but this situation calls for action, I believe,” said Ammons. Ward One Councilman Warren B. Cox Sr., in whose ward the home is located, agreed with Ammons.
Antonio Prowell is the agent who represents the property for Clinton-based Real Estate Depot. He said that CLMG Corporation in Texas owns the property.
“We (Real Estate Depot), have been in there cleaning up the property recently,” said Prowell. “We cleaned the debris out of the floor. We’re going to appraise it now. We don’t want it condemned. We have buyers interested in it. We didn’t want to overprice the property.”
The council voted unanimously to condemn the property, with Cox making the motion, seconded by Wilson. The vote was unanimous.
Grenada could be a prime spot for a convention center, a Jackson architect said.
Harold Thompson with M3A Architecture gave the board a 15-minute presentation, complete with PowerPoint, showing a sparkling, new $7 million, 60,000-square-foot facility that he’d like to build in the Interstate Business and Technology Park.
The prime spot, Thompson said, would be the lot at the corner of Hwy. 51 and Papermill Rd.
Among the amenities Thompson listed for the venue were a large, central event space, break-out rooms off the main floor, a large, industrial kitchen, dressing rooms, ticket booths and more.
Collins said after the meeting that city officials in Grenada have been discussing the possibility of building a convention center for some time, and some have visited similar venues in Batesville, Jackson and Tunica. The feasibility planM3A is undertaking is in its infancy stages, Collins said.
“We don’t want to be premature,” said Collins, adding that the council hasn’t even discussed how Grenada would fund such a project. However, under ideal circumstances, Grenada could do well with such a center, Collins said.
“We’re centrally located, between Jackson and Memphis, and we’re often faced with the challenge, as with the crappie tournament banquets, of finding a space where several hundred people can eat or meet,” said Collins. The council took no action after the architect’s presentation.