The Dart: Cedar Ave. is a dividing line for city

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 8, 2008

Editor&8217;s note: The Dart is a weekly feature where Times staffers throw a dart at a map of Demopolis, then go and find a story associated with that area. It runs Thursdays.

DEMOPOLIS &8212; Cedar Avenue serves as one of the two great divides in Demopolis, the second being U.S. Highway 80.

On the west side of the passageway lies the downtown area, and although there are plenty of vacancies in the array of historic structures, there are also plenty of successful hometown businesses that are able to make ends meet day after day.

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Now step across Cedar Ave. to the east side.

It takes no rocket scientist to figure it out: this northeast sector of the city is in disrepair.

Historic buildings sport boarded windows and doors. A full beard of vines covers the exterior of many. The windows are blank &8212; as if staring at a future that may never come.

For anyone who has never visited the area, the concept is hard to grasp; however, the area has been noticed by the city, so much so that the area has its own section in Demopolis&8217; Comprehensive Community Master Plan drafted on Mar. 31.

Neighborhoods East of Cedar is listed as Item F under the heading of policies and recommendations. The recommendations made in the section include supporting, &8220;&8230;the overall improvement of these neighborhoods, including the new municipal complex,&8221; and, &8220;&8230;make better connections between these neighborhoods and the Downtown and Riverfront.&8221;

According to Brian Brooker, chairman of the Demopolis Historic Preservation Commission, the area has been recognized as not only a &8220;revitalization neighborhood, but also an &8220;overlay district&8221; due to many properties in the area being listed on the city&8217;s historic resources survey.

Under Item E on the plan, the first recommendation is to, &8220;Increase in-fill neighborhood housing in conjunction with comprehensive neighborhood revitalization, especially east of Cedar Street.&8221;

This recommendation brings with it a concern that must be addressed.

The historic structures in the area, most of which are dilapidated, must be honored in order for the city to respect its historical heritage.

Funding is required to complete the renovations that will transform these buildings from ramshackle remains of the past to grandeurs of the present. In today&8217;s economic condition, those monies will likely be secured through grants.

While some see housing as the most-needed addition to these neighborhoods, jobs and industry come in at a close second.

Dorothy Bryant, a native of the Demopolis area and resident of the Martin Luther King Jr. Apartments on North Cedar Ave., believes that more housing similar to that she&8217;s lived in for more than 16 years would be most beneficial for the area.

Bryant said that the second most needed entity would be industry in the area.

Magdalene Wright, who joined Bryant for a stint of coolness and relief from the afternoon sun under a shade tree, agreed that housing and jobs were a must for the area.

Relatively few complaints came from the duo on living in the area.

And although that holds true today, tomorrow could bring a different story.