Alderman Aubry Brent Jr. appeared before county leaders in an effort to improve the working relationship between both the city and county board.
With the highly-anticipated Willie Morris Parkway now a reality, Brent said it is imperative for the two governing boards to work together for the benefit of the community.
“This is going to do a lot for our community,” Brent said, at the Yazoo County Board of Supervisors meeting. “The plan is for other businesses to come along and juxtapose themselves right next to (Walmart). We are going to have a thriving area very shortly.”
Brent said the vision of the parkway is much like the vision of former mayor Wardell Leach, who spearheaded the creation of a local recreational complex in the 1990s.
“The county worked with the city very well at the time with some swap-offs,” Brent added. “We gave you the old police department for the detention center. And you gave us the land where we put the park.”
During the initial creation of the now Wardell Leach Recreational Complex, Brent said the working relationship between the city and county led to its establishment.
“We have often worked together on major projects, and I hope that we can continue to work that way,” Brent said. “I know that it’s difficult now. Trust me, I know.”
Brent said recent division between the city and county has been counterproductive.
“Some of us have to be the bigger person to work for the better of Yazoo County and Yazoo City,” he said. “You cannot extract Yazoo City from Yazoo County. We are a part of the county.”
Brent said he doesn’t agree with the idea that the county isn’t giving its fair when it comes to city operations. He pointed to the partnership between the two boards with Ricks Memorial Library as an example.
“I don’t want you to think that I haven’t been aware of what you have always done,” Brent said. “You all pay $165,000 for the library. We only put in $59,000.”
Regarding parks and recreation, Brent suggested that the Yazoo Convention and Visitors Bureau perhaps contribute more to the department.
“I don’t know whether the CVB could do more or what,” he said. “But what I do know is that we all need have dialogue. We need to sit around the table if we want to see recreation continue here in Yazoo City.”
Brent requested that the county, city and CVB board have a meeting to discuss the future of parks and recreation.
“And I will try to contain some of my members from doing too much talking so we can get some things done,” Brent said.
Board President Cobie Collins said the future of parks and recreation doesn’t depend solely on money. He said it’s also about leadership and management.
“And when I hear a member of your board say that the county can’t count the CVB money...” Collins continued. “We are the only ones who can allow them to put that money in. We have shut it down before.”
Collins said there were also many projects the county wanted to be completed within the local parks that were never done.
“We asked that the bathrooms be redone,” Collins said. “That hasn’t been done yet. The bathrooms at the fields are deplorable.”
Collins reminded Brent that the Public Service Commission provides utilities for some county residents, including the Shady Lane and Racetrack areas. He also added that many Racetrack Road residents are being charged double for water.
“County residents are paying PSC, but the city is the only one who can surplus that money,” Collins said. “Should I say the city shouldn’t get surplus PSC money because county residents pay into it too?”
Collins said there needs to be a clear vision of what exactly needs to be done within parks and recreation.
“Let’s see if the people running the facility for us are doing what we need done,” Collins said.
Collins also said with Yazoo City’s population, the municipality has to provide recreation for its citizens.
“The county may participate up to three mills,” Collins said. “The city has to provide recreation. But we can’t make your board do anything. You can’t make our board do anything. The way we used to get things done...we talked.”
Collins said he has never seen this type of relationship between the city and county boards until now.
“I have been sitting on this board for awhile, and I have never seen a board...you just don’t come in and tell them what they are going to do,” Collins said.