Meeting with Fort Hill residents a positive step
Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 31, 2015
With work set to begin on an auxiliary waterline for the city within the next four months, Mayor George Flaggs Jr. and North Ward Alderman Michael Mayfield went out and did what public servants are supposed to do.
They went out and met with the residents on Fort Hill Drive who will be affected by the project when construction crews begin installing sections of 30-inch waterline down the center of the street to try and answer their concerns about the project’s impact on their neighborhood.
“I think it was only fair that the folks who are affected by this know what’s going on,” Flaggs told the 16 residents who attended the meeting. “We want to make sure any questions you have get answered. We want you to ask questions so we can get you the right answers. If we don’t know the answer, we will get it for you.”
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Flaggs also said the city will hire an engineer to serve as a liaison between the residents and the city to not only make sure the work is being done properly, but to keep the people informed in the progress of construction and to handle complaints.
The residents’ questions were mostly centered around traffic control — how they will be able to enter and leave Fort Hill Drive while construction is going on and equipment clogs their street, making travel a little more of a challenge. There were other concerns about the potential for erosion caused by the work and where the construction crews will keep their equipment during off hours.
Traffic control and the ability of residents to get out of their homes and then back in is a major concern in any community where construction crews are tearing up streets to repair or replace water and sewer lines, and it is a major concern on Fort Hill, which is a narrow, two-lane road that has its share of inclines, twists and turns. When the need arises, the officials said, the residents will be able to use a road in the nearby Vicksburg National Military Park to get to North Washington Street and then to their destinations.
Were all the questions answered? No, in part because some answers won’t be revealed until a contract is awarded and work begins, but the meeting was a start, and it inspired more ideas to help the residents, such as a “hot line” to report problems and a decision by the mayor to put a map of the project on the city’s website so residents, not only on Fort Hill, but across the city, can keep track of the waterline’s progress.
There is no doubt that as the waterline progresses the residents will have more questions, and there’s no doubt they left the meeting thinking of other questions to ask and hoping they’ll get the unanswered questions resolved.
But city officials have given notice they are willing to work with them to make things a little easier when the crews start working on their street.
That is what a city government is supposed to do, and hopefully our officials will be ready to provide that help when the time comes.