Grayson: High hopes for proposed port

Published 6:59 pm Friday, April 1, 2011

Demopolis Mayor Mike Grayson addressed several dozen attendees Wednesday during an open forum at Rooster Hall.

The session, which was designed to allow for interaction between city leadership and citizens about the direction of Demopolis, saw much of its attention paid to the proposed port that would be an effort to utilize the city’s location on the banks of the Tombigbee River.

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“We are a very blessed community,” Grayson said among his opening remarks. “This city is blessed with two thins. No. 1, the people. No. 2, we’re blessed with natural and man made assets.”

Grayson went on to point out that the 1910 census showed Marengo County to have more than 39,000 residents. By the year 2000, the county had dropped to 21,000 residents.

“In order to reverse that trend, we’re going to have to use our assets,” he told the small crowd. “We’re going to have to use our marine highway. That is an asset that has been given to us.”

As the session turned to an open discussion, most questions were related to the proposed port.

“The big game-changer will be the Port of Demopolis,” Grayson said. “We’re poised to be able to make a difference. If we consider it an investment, it will pay off for us. It will be a game-changer, but don’t expect it to be an overnight game-changer.”

Grayson outlined some of city leadership’s plan to make the proposed port into a reality, but continually reiterated that undertaking such a project is not without obstacles and should be considered an investment.

Phase one of that projet, according to Grayson, woud be to obtain control of the property in question.

“If we’re going to do this, we want to make sure we are the beneficiaries of this investment,” Grayson pointed out.

Other topics discussed at the session included finding ways to support the city’s existing assets.

“We’ve got to maintain the high quaity of our schools. There’s no going back. We’ve got to continue to support our hospital. We’ve got to recruit more doctors in here,” Grayson said. “We’ve got to continue to develop our downtown.”

Also among Grayson’s talking points was the necessity to open Demopolis up to new businesses.

“We’ve got to be business friendly in this town,” he said.

Grayson also told the audience of a joint stance between himself and the mayors of Thomasville, Northport and Tuscaloosa.

“It is our opinion Highway 43 should be four-laned all the way up to the interstate in Greene County,” Grayson said.