By NATHAN GREGORY
Twenty-three residents of Starkville’s Carver Drive area met Saturday at J.L. King Park to ask for help with sewage and drainage problems.
They spoke with Golden Triangle Planning and Development District grant supervisor Phylis Benson about drainage and sewage problems in their area and received information about a grant the city will apply for next month that could provide funding to have the ditches fixed.
Through the GTPDD, the city is developing a grant application to submit to the Mississippi Development Authority for a Community Development Block Grant. If approved, the grant would provide a maximum of $600,000 toward making improvements provided the city matches at least a portion of that amount. An area’s ability to show it is able to match or overmatch a grant dollar for dollar is a key factor that would increase the likelihood of being approved. Factors such as documented need for the project (pictures of flooding or other problems), financial participation and cost benefit are considered.
Benson said a decision on whether or not the city will be approved for a grant will come in September at the earliest.
Carver Drive area resident Daisy McDowell said when the ditches overflow due to extended periods of rain, she has insect problems and sees snakes in her yard.
“The mosquitoes are so terrible I can’t even sit on my porch. I can pull up my pants leg and show you where they ate me up last night,” McDowell said. “To me, all we’re getting (from the city) is ‘pretends.’ I pretend I’m going to (make improvements to the ditch) but I haven’t got the time.”
Wilson Gardner, another area resident, said he deals with the same problems.
“I’ve lived here since ’82 and we’ve been having these problems for 28 or 29 years. We always have snakes. We’ve been trying to get this thing solved for 10, 15 (years), maybe more. You can go to other streets, South Montgomery, all other kind of streets where the rich people are and (problems are fixed),” Gardner said. “We’re poor, but we’re still humans.
“I can stand down in that ditch and you can probably stand on top of me and you can’t se either one of us (from ground level),” he said. “I know the city has the equipment and manpower to do it. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t have been done.”
Resident Ruth Mosley said she can’t let her grandchildren play in her back yard because it’s close to a ditch that constantly overflows.
“This problem has been here 30 years because I’ve been here 30 years. When I moved down here we could step across that ditch back there, but now it’s 7 feet deep and steady washing,” she said. “When it rains, the sewer overflows and floods and puts everything in the yard. (You have) snakes, bugs, rats, everything. Sometimes when you’re out there for a long time it makes you sick.”
Ward 7 Alderman Henry Vaughn said he hopes the city receives a grant because the situation is getting more and more serious.
“(The residents) have legitimate gripes. This is a project that has been going on for 30 years, and I’m hoping we’re getting close to putting this to an end and giving them some relief. It’s unsafe, unhealthy and it’s a bad condition for them to be living in,” Vaughn said.
Ward 6 Alderman Roy A. Perkins said he was pleased with the input citizens were able to provide to Benson.
“I think we had an excellent turnout with good citizen input. We accomplished what we intended to accomplish and we’ll provide the information over to Mrs. Benson so she can incorporate all these things into the grant application,” Perkins said.