ABERDEEN – Aberdeen Historic Preservation Commission Chairperson Kathy Seymour appeared before the board of aldermen Aug. 6 to give a progress update on the M&O Depot and a request to pursue more funding for its continued renovation.
The city previously received a community heritage grant for its latest renovation. The depot is located behind the Aberdeen fire and electric departments.
“This is not funded every year by the legislature, and there is some fear that after this year they will not fund it for a while. If we want to finish the depot, we probably need to apply,” she said. “[Architect] Belinda Stewart is feeling we have a very good chance of getting another grant similar to what we got this last time because we are the oldest depot in Mississippi, and they want to see it finished.”
The board approved for a grant proposal to be written. The application is due Sept. 27. Seymour said there are plans for an open house in most likely September to show the progress thus far. The depot will be available for event rentals and office space once completed.
After discussion, aldermen approved to have an environmental study completed on the former Big Star building. City attorney Bob Faulks said the entities that paid the city and county taxes on the property in 2015 are willing to donate their property interests to the city.
“You would not be the owner of the property free and clear of all liens,” he said of the board potentially accepting the donation. “There are the 2016, ’17 and ’18 taxes to be paid.”
Benson said there’s an approximate $20,000 due for taxes on the property.
Ward 2 Alderman Doug Stone said the city’s intention is to tear down the building and build a splash pad. Mayor Maurice Howard said his only concern was if the city is taking a building it would pay, it would be a similar situation as with the former Holley Performance building last year as far as environmental concerns.
In other business, Blue Cross Blue Shield representatives discussed insurance premiums for the upcoming year. Due to a high rate of claims from the previous year, there will be an increase in the renewal rate. Regardless, the rates are lower than what the city was paying before signing up with the company in 2013.
The board approved to advertise for energy services contractors. City engineer Dustin Dabbs has been in touch with city and Aberdeen School District officials about working together to complete an energy audit to evaluate lighting and HVAC systems.