One Yazoo City school board trustee voiced her complaint last week about Yazoo City Public Service Commission's (YCPSC) selection of sites for the city's water wells and tanks, claiming that they're mostly placed in predominantly black neighborhoods.
During the June 30 meeting of the Yazoo City Municipal School District's School Board, Wayne Morrison, engineer for YCPSC and the City of Yazoo City, made a plea to purchase .67 acres of land near McCoy Elementary School from the school district to install a new water well and tank, a $2 million project.
After school board members questioned Morrison about access YCPSC employees would have to the site, he said that two accesses from Mississippi 3 would be provided. There would be no need for utility workers to enter the site via the school district's road off Dr. Martin Luther King Drive. One access possibly would have an electrically controlled gate. Morrison said YCPSC also would make improvements to the access road. He said the access road additionally could eliminate congestion during school sporting events.
Trustee Willye Thomas said she had concerns with locating a water well and tank on school property.
“I even went down (behind) Manchester (Academy) to take a look at that (water well and tank) and rode down Martin Luther King (Drive) to take a look at that well. I just have some concerns,” Thomas said.
Trustee Lula Starling asked Morrison if he had considered looking elsewhere for a site for the water well and tank
“When I look at the water tanks and the towers that's going up, it's in the predominantly black neighborhoods,” Starling said, adding that when she had asked him earlier if he had looked for other sites, he “couldn't really clarify that you had looked at other sites.”
She added that after looking at the city's water wells and tanks, “It just seems like we're being bombarded by water tanks and towers …. You could go back and maybe look at some other sites to be included in this and maybe we would have something to negotiate from, but you've just picked this site out and you're saying how it would be useful to the (federal) prison across (Mississippi 3).”
Former Superintendent Dr. Arthur Cartlidge said the water well and tower on the school site would be “for the greater good of Yazoo City.” He added that the site would not cause the school property to be landlocked.
After mentioning Woolfolk Middle School, Cartlidge added, “At some point, we're going to have to build a new school over there. We want to make sure we have all the land that's available to us to be able to make that move at some point in time.”
Morrison said the site appraised for $23,350.
“It's a $2 million project and the (YCPSC) is borrowing $1.5 million from the state in order to do it,” Morrison explained. “It's over in this area because that's where our large (water) demands are, and that's the only reason. We serve a little over a million and a half gallons of water a day over to the prison.”
He said the water well and tank off Dr. Martin Luther King Drive and Seventh Street has been in service since 1967 and provides 60 percent of all the city's water use.
“It needs to be replaced … terribly,” Morrison said.
He explained that the water wells are located in the Delta “because it's the shallowest place to get to the water. It's about 950 feet deep. If I move that well up into the hills, I've got to got through 350 feet of hill to get to it. It costs a lot more money to put it in the hills. We've got five wells and we use (water) from those Delta wells to pump to the elevated water tanks that are on top of the hills and that's what gives us our good (water) pressure.”
Morrison said a new well eventually would have to be located near the present well off Dr. Martin Luther King Drive and Seventh Street because of its central location in the city. He said the proposed water well near McCoy Elementary School could “ease the pressure on the (Dr. Martin Luther King Drive and Seventh Street) well.”
“It's an age issue,” Morrison said. “We're trying to get in front of some of the problems we would have down the road.”
Starling asked if Morrison and YCPSC officials had apprised city officials of the need for the water well and tank. While Morrison said he had not discussed the matter with city officials, “Public Service (Commission) board minutes are passed to the city every month.”
Following Morrison's presentation, board action was tabled until the matter could receive further discussion in executive session. A central office employee said no action was taken during the closed door discussion.