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Arch Street drama continues

The Arch Street Committee was an on again, off again meeting Thursday achieving a quorum for only a portion of the meeting.

The only official action the committee appointed by the city council took was to approve the minutes of its prior meeting July 1.

The council appointed the committee to study the Arch Street Scenic Walk and Riverfront Development project, approved by the Alabama Dept. of Transportation for a 2004 Transportation Enhancement Grant of more than $400,000 in federal monies.

The committee is charged with making a recommendation to council members as to the scope of the project. ALDOT will, according to committee member Kirk Brooker, allow minor revisions to the grant and still approve the release of funds.

However,

At the beginning of the meeting, the committee did not have enough members present to officially convene, but Chairman Jay Shows, president of the Demopolis Area Chamber of Commerce, told the members present, Mark Pettus, Harry Britton, Brooker and Louise Reynolds, that he wanted to move forward with a general discussion about the project and allow Pettus, who co-authored the grant application with City Clerk Vickie Taylor, a chance to explain the grant proposal and answer any questions from the committee.

While Pettus briefed the committee, members Judy Travis and Linda Teaford entered the meeting and a quorum was declared.

Shows informed the committee that a survey of property lines along Arch Street had been completed, but the engineering firm contracted to perform the survey had recalled its report for review.

“Based on the survey I saw, there were a couple of houses that sit right on the border (of city-owned Arch Street),” Shows told the committee.

Also on Arch Street property according to the initial survey, Shows said, was Bluff Hall’s fountain and “log cabin.”

Also completed by the city was an archeological study of the area, however the official report has not yet been released by the studying organization.

“Word of mouth was that nothing was found at all,” Shows said.

Only one spot along the more than one-mile route was of any interest.

Brooker told the committee members that his investigation into the study indicated that modifications to the concrete walking path may be required, calling for a different surface rather than concrete.

Another point of business for the committee was for each member present to go on the record concerning each representative organization’s position on the project.

Shows led from the Chamber’s perspective, saying that dock development both at City Landing and at Webb’s Landing (or the Lower Pool) was important to the Chamber. He also told members that the walk way itself was viewed by the Chamber as more of a recreational facility that would improve the quality of life for Demopolis residents.

Teaford, representing the city’s horticultural department, said her concerns about the project were whether enough money was allocated for adequate landscaping and that annual plants, as had been specified in the grant application, would not be used.

Brooker represents the county’s Historical Society. He stated that his board was in favor of the project but wanted the walk to stop at Bluff Hall from its origination point near the Demopolis Yacht Basin.

“In addition to that, we want to make sure that everyone is involved in the process,” he said.

Reynolds, the committee’s secretary, represents the residents and seven property owners adjacent to Arch Street. She said her group was primarily concerned with disturbing the Chickasaw Gallery area, bluff erosion, safety to area residents and had several questions for Pettus relating to details of the walkway’s construction.

“Over feeling is that it would be best if we stopped at the civic center,” she said.

Pettus told the committee that his information from ALDOT indicated if the walkway was cut in length, a proportional cut in funding would be made.

Britton, a former board member for the Historical Society and placed on the committee by the council as an at-large member, said he believed that the entire project should be carried out.

“Do it from one end to the other,” he said, “and not piecemeal.”

Travis represents the city’s Beautification Commission said she wasn’t concerned about bringing in the “wrong” element.

“Hoodlums don’t jog and the police will have to watch it,” she said.

One of her primary

concerns was whether or not the walkway should be pulled back where it could be from the bluff to help stem the prospect of loosing the walkway to erosion. She also recommended not having very high landscaping so as not to impede the view of the river or the landowner’s view.

The meeting did not formally adjourn as Pettus had to leave prior to the conclusion of the meeting.