CCID advisory panel starts process of master plan design for new boundariesBy ANTHONY WARREN,
A design firm could be in place by August 15 to draw up plans for the “Capitol Complex Improvement District.”
The CCID advisory panel held its first meeting recently and members discussed the timeline for bringing on an engineer and drawing up the master plan.
The panel will advise the Mississippi Department of Finance and Administration (DFA) on how to spend funds in the district, which takes in a large swath of the capital city.
Under state law, before any monies can be spent, DFA must first put together a master plan.
DFA hopes to bring on a local engineering firm to draw up the plan and issued a request for qualifications RFQ earlier this year.
DFA Executive Director Laura Jackson told the panel that four responses were submitted, one from Neel-Schaffer, SOL Engineering and the Central Mississippi Planning and Development District (CMPDD), one from Waggoner Engineering, AJA Consultants, and Cooke Douglass Farr Lemons, and one each from Pickering Engineering and Stantec Consultants.
A subcommittee that will include three representatives from the CCID board will interview the firms this week and recommend one of those groups to DFA for approval.
The subcommittee will include DFA employees, as well as advisory panel members Chokwe Antar Lumumba, mayor of Jackson, Rebekah Staples, a public policy advisor appointed by Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, and Bobby Morgan, a policy advisor appointed by Gov. Phil Bryant.
Interviews must take place before July 27, according to a copy of the RFQ.
Applicants will be chosen in accordance with DFA’s existing professional selection policy. Firms will be evaluated on a number of factors, including past performance, project team qualifications and relevant experience.
Other factors include the applicants’ project vision, data analysis ability, data communication ability, budget estimating ability and schedule control ability.
Once hired, consultants will have 180 days to complete the plan.
If the contract is approved by August 15, the master plan will be due to the agency in February.
Jackson said it’s too early to tell exactly what the master plan will look like.
“I imagine it will have some defined projects that the members of the group come to the table with,” she said.
The plan will compliment work funded by the city’s one-percent infrastructure tax, and will take into consideration any infrastructure studies already completed by the city.
Jackson previously has completed road, water and sewer system evaluations, outlining needs.
State law requires projects in the plan to be “coordinated with the city of Jackson to the greatest extent possible.”
“We will not be duplicating efforts,” Jackson said. “This (has to be) a joint effort or it’s not going to work.”
She told the panel she would like the engineering firm chosen to meet with advisory members to find out what they’d like in the plan.
The nine-member panel includes Lumumba, Jackson Director of Planning and Development Mukesh Kumar, Jackson Public Works Director Robert Miller, Jonathan Wilson, chief administrative officer for the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Nathan Wells, chief of staff for Speaker of the House Philip Gunn, Worth Thomas, a consultant representing Jackson State University, Morgan and Staples.
Lumumba said he was excited about moving forward and “getting some projects done.
He asked the commission to strike balance between addressing the city’s immediate needs and working toward long-term goals.
“Let’s keep in mind the long-term goals,” he said.
The CCID takes in a large swath of the capital city, including JSU, UMMC, the Mississippi Research and Development Center, most of LeFleur’s Bluff State Park, and the Capitol Complex, which is made up of the Mississippi Capitol Building and the state buildings surrounding it.
The district runs from Meadowbrook Road in the north to Hooker Street in the south, and from JSU in the west to the Pearl River and Ridgewood Road in the east.
Projects in the district will be funded by a special sales tax diversion from the state.
This year, the state will allocate more than $3 million for improvements.