Petal officials get an update on skating rink progress

By HASKEL BURNS,

Tuesday night’s meeting of the Petal Board of Aldermen set the stage for officials to receive an update on the progress at the Petal skating rink that was heavily damaged by the tornado that rolled through in January 2017.

Forrest County District 3 Supervisor Burkett Ross, who owns the property on South Main Street, told board members that workers have replaced the building’s trusses and are currently doing wall repairs.

“I hope to put the rest of the rafters on the north side of the building maybe (Wednesday),” Ross said. “They’re working on it as much as they can.

“If it comes another flood like it did last Saturday, I don’t know (a time frame). But they’re doing it as fast as they can, because y’all need to be worrying about other things besides that little old building down on South Main. There’s bigger problems here and there.”

Ross said workers also have cut the grass near the skating rink’s putt-putt golf course, and he’s made plans to buy metal for additional repairs.

“(I was told) don’t buy it until we can make exact (measurements) – it makes it a whole lot easier when you start trying to put it up,” he said. “But it’s going to look better than it’s ever looked.”

Ward 2 Alderman Steve Stringer, who served as mayor pro tem for the meeting while Mayor Hal Marx fulfilled a speaking engagement in Oxford, said although he’s glad Ross is making progress, repairs still need to be made sooner rather than later.

“As long as he’s doing what he’s supposed to do, it’s going to be fine, but he’s still going to have to be on a timeline,” he said. “We’re still going to have to make sure that it’s being done.

“Right now, with what he’s doing, it is looking better, but we still have a long way to go on it.”

Officials had previously expressed displeasure over what they perceived as a lack of progress on the building, saying Ross had been given plenty of time to make repairs.

“And I’m concerned that the repairs that he’s making, it appears to me are not really going to solve the problem of the building looking dilapidated and needing to be cleaned up,” Marx said in a previous story. “It looks like he’s trying to repair the roof … but there’s the whole front section of the building that was also partially destroyed.

“I believe that whole part of the building should be torn down, myself.”

In October, the skating rink was scheduled for demolition, but Ross was given 30 days to begin repairs before demolition began. According to regulations from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, if city officials determine a building’s repair would cost more than 50 percent of the building’s cash value, the city is allowed to decide between repair and demolition.

Ross had previously submitted reports from an architect and a construction firm in an attempt to prove the building was less than 50 percent damage.

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