Councilman-at-Large Gary Knoblock reports highlights of the August 4 Bay St. Louis city council meeting including proposals for a depot district revitalization and updates to get ready for passenger rail service in 2022, Planning & Zoning outcomes, and the current state of the city's finances.
This report includes Tuesday night’s council meeting and the Wednesday night budget meeting.
Tuesday’s council meeting was very dynamic. We opened with the BSL Depot Committee report. Councilman Jeffrey Reed, opened with naming the committee members: myself, Councilman Gene Hoffman, John Anderson, Ed Wikoff, Larry Jaubert, Lonnie Falgout, Regan Kane, Myron Labat, Jim McPhaille, Gary Ponthieux, Sr., David Reso, and Terry Stolz.
Without a doubt this was a group of extremely talented professionals, all of which live and work in the Bay St. Louis area. This committee met a total of three times where we shared all the ideas that have been suggested for years. I took these suggestion/ideas and created renderings of what the Depot could be and delivered a detailed presentation of the BSL Depot.
During the presentation, I outlined:
This covers most of the major improvements to help revitalize the Depot Grounds.
Next Joe Gex spoke representing St. Stanislaus and donated two basketball goals to the City of Bay St. Louis. Lightning Quick Signs is refurbishing the goals to be installed at MLK park on Washington. The council and the mayor want to thank the Joe Gex and the Brothers of St. Stanislaus for the donation. We will have the sign on display outlining the donation to the city. Again, thank you.
Next MS Power gave a short presentation concerning the installation of surveillance cameras at our area parks. Over the last several years, we have seen a rise in vandalism of our area parts. We will be testing a few models in the coming weeks.
Planning & Zoning
The Council extended the State of Emergency for Covid-19 and Tropical Storm Cristobal until September 15th. I believe everybody understands the Covid-19 issue, but we are still mopping up with debris removal using the new grapple truck.
What I want to point out about the consent agenda is the cash balances. All total, the city has over 5 million dollars on hand and the General Fund as of 7/31/20 has just shy of 1.9 million dollars. Going into our lean months of October, November, and December, our cash position is strong.
So, despite all the issues concerning the Covid crisis, our financial position remains strong. Remember, we made major cuts to our budget to pull us through. The docket of claims paid out $513, 834, of which 300k was a payment to the builder constructing Pier 5. The City will be reimbursed within 30 days.
The Mayor asked the council to approve an agreement with the city engineer to update the cities current subdivision regulations.
We approved the award agreement with the Southern Rail commission for the Gulf Coast High Speed Rail Corridor Station improvement planning & capital project. In other words, we need to make improvements to the depot to accept passengers. Rail service is tentatively slated to begin in March of 2022.
During the engineers report we did talk about the about the upcoming bond. The council has to approve the needs list and will be scheduling a workshop at the next meeting finalize the list.
The 20/21 budget is almost final. Basically, we are using the same budget as last year. We have one more meeting and I will post in greater detail.
Thank you for reading. For more information, you can find videos of each meeting on the city web site.
Your Councilman at Large
Bay St. Louis turned out in full force in 2016, when jubilant crowds met officials traveling through in an effort to restore passenger rail service on the coast. As of now, passenger train service is slated to begin in March 2022. photo by Ellis Anderson. Click here for our Shoofly photo album of the 2016 event.