Columbus City Council Approves New Parking Lot Agreement

November 15, 2012

City Council, Columbus, MS, Mayor, Politics

What had been thought to be a done deal between the City of Columbus and R.L Edmondson has now been changed.

At the Nov. 14 special-called meeting of the Columbus City Council, council members voted 5-1 to approve a new agreement for the lease of the parking lot behind the Front Door/Back Door Restaurant. The lot, which is owned by Edmondson, has been known as “Catfish Alley parking lot.”

Columbus Chief Operations Officer David Armstrong said that he thought a deal had been worked out between the two parties, but it had changed. Attorney Scott Colom negotiated a deal between the city and Edmondson, because City Attorney Jeff Turnage had to recuse himself.

“We thought we had a deal locked in at 20 years for $180 a month,” Armstrong said.

Armstrong added that along with the $180 per month, Edmondson wants the city to pay taxes on the property, which comes to $525 per year. That amount would add another $43.75 to the monthly cost.

Armstrong said that it would be “in the city’s best interest” to pay Edmondson $230 a month, which would cover the cost of the taxes.

Mayor Robert Smith had suggested that general obligation bond money be used for this project, as well as other re-paving projects in the city, which include re-paving of the Hitching Lot Farmers’ Market parking lot and the parking lot behind the Trotter Convention Center.

Smith said that an agreement needed to be reached.

“We can’t start the paving until we have a lease in hand,” he said.

Ward 5 Councilman Kabir Karriem suggested that the city buy the parking space, because the city would be paying out about $45,000 over 20 years.

Smith replied that he had tried to negotiate a deal with the owner to purchase the property, but a deal could not be reached.

Ward 6 Councilman Bill Gavin cast the lone dissenting vote. He said that he supported paying $222 a month over $230.

“I want to watch my pennies. That’s eight dollars we can save,” he said.

In other action, the council unanimously approved a lease-purchase financial resolution at Wednesday’s meeting. Siemens Corporation, a multi-national financial company, is handling the financing of the resolution.

Armstrong said that the resolution is for performing energy-efficient upgrades on the city’s buildings.

“It will be lighting and HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) improvements,” he said.

Allen Baswell is a veteran journalist who covers politics, government and sports.

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2 Comments on “Columbus City Council Approves New Parking Lot Agreement”

  1. Kathleen Rusing Says:

    Truely Columbus needs to build a parking garage .There is just no where for people to park downtown. Parking garage would make people more willing to go downtown.


  2. sspikemurphy Says:

    Reblogged this on It's Just Parking and commented:
    A small city leases a parking lot and wants to pay for this and other parking related projects with bonds. Though it may seem innocuous, they could be setting themselves up for disaster; in an upcoming story, I’ll be examining how something very similar bankrupted the city of Scranton, PA of The Office fame.


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