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Council discusses more capital projects

DEMOPOLIS &8212; With previous council discussions being tempered with concern about the city&8217;s finances, the city council again labored over decisions regarding spending the city&8217;s funds appropriately at Thursday&8217;s meeting.

After requesting Public Safety Director Jeff Manuel complete a 30, 60 and 90-day survey of Roman Drive to assist in determining whether or not the road should be widened into a standard city street, the council was undecided on the next steps in the process.

Mitchell Congress, who has relatives on the street, spoke in favor of opening the road. He said the road now is a safety issue because there is only one way in and one way out, with no room to maneuver out of the area quickly in an emergency situation.

Two issues concerning the road are the cost of the project, according to the mayor, and also setting a precedent on developing private property, according to Councilman Woody Collins.

Councilman Charles Jones, who has continued to pursue opening the road, said the road had been platted for many years. Also, the most recent roads to be opened up were Cherry Street, the road going into the SportsPlex and Stewart Street. Those roads, however, were paid for in part by a bond issue from 1986, Jones said, with some of the cost burden being shared with the homeowners.

But with a potential increased cost in the price of cleaning and repairing the Jackson Street bridge looming in the future, council members discussed options to decrease costs in assessing the project further by consulting with &8220;in-house&8221; individuals, such as Byron Cook, Water Department manager, and Mike Baker, Public Works director.

The council agreed to pursue further cost estimates and discuss the matter again at a future meeting.

Fire station

building requests

With construction nearing completion on fire station three at the East end of the city, Chef Ron Few had several more building requests to present to the council before the project can move forward.

Some of the items, including a ditch to house wiring for the building, Few said he was able to negotiate down to a lower cost. Other projects, like a sidewalk for the building, Few said the department would later take on themselves in lieu of charging the construction company to do the work. Still other items, like a tower, will need to be bid out to determine a cost.

After asking if the project was still in the limits of the original funds appropriated to it, Few said he was not certain if the station was within budget constraints.

According to Councilman Thomas Moore, the items addressed at the most recent building committee put the project within budget limits. Nonetheless, the mayor requested Few draw up a document showing each of the requests with the necessary details. But not all council members were satisfied with his response.

Few said he expects the station to be completed by April.

Liquor license

denied again

After being denied an application for a liquor license at the Feb. 7 meeting, Erik Nathan Wright came before the council again seeking approval for a liquor license at 20 Grand, a jazz club he expects to open on North Strawberry Street. Wright described his establishment as &8220;a sit down place to come and listen to live music&8221; and &8220;somewhere to come that is nice and mellow,&8221; with no smoking, loud music or dance floors.

Leslie Spiller, a represenative of the First Baptist Church of Demopolis located on Strawberry Street, presented the council with a petition with at least 120 signatures of people opposed to the council approving the license.

Sarah Chandler Hallmark is a resident of Strawberry Street. She too, told the council she would be in opposition to Wright&8217;s establishment being granted a liquor license.

Wright said he has tried to accommodate local churches when opening his package store, which is already in operation and in the vicinity of where the club will be located. On Wednesday nights when the First Baptist Church has bible study and services, Wright said he does not open his store. Also on Saturdays, when the church next door to his liquor store has services until 2:30 p.m., Wright said he does not open his store until 5 p.m.

Manuel, who had previously recommended to the council to deny Wright&8217;s request, said his recommendation to the council, in spite of Wright supplying additional information that was requested of him, had not changed. The council took the recommendation of the public safety director, and again denied the liquor license request for 20 Grand.

The remainder of the meeting was devoted to the presentation of the city&8217;s audit report for fiscal year 2007, which ended on Sept. 30, 2007. Look for a detailed report of the audit&8217;s findings in The Times next week.

In other business,

the council:

-Recognized Carol Glass, who is retiring from the Demopolis Public Library after working there since 1990.

-Accepted a lease with the Marengo County History and Archive Museum Foundation, which includes a commitment of $20,000 in capital outlay funds each year, pending the foundation&8217;s achievement as a non-profit organization.

-Declared the trailer behind fire station #2 as surplus to bid out and sold at a surplus sale at the end of March.