Council moves ahead on road paving project

Published 8:52 pm Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Demopolis City Council voted Thursday to bring in an engineer to help continue plans for a street paving project.

The engineer will help the council decide what streets need paving the most and what an estimated price tag might be.

“We have been kicking this can for a long time,” said Mayor Mike Grayson. “It’s time we do something with it.”

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The council will use a list complied in 2011 that prioritized paving projects as a starting point.

“We have an idea how to do this and how much we want to spend,” said Councilman Bill Meador. “We will go forward from here and see just how far we can go with it.”

Meador said part of the project would likely be paid for with city reserves but that the council has a plan to pay that back as soon as a bond is paid off.

The council has yet to commit to an exact amount to spend on the project, but most said they hope work will begin sooner than later.

“I want to see it happen this calendar year,” said Charles Jones Jr.

In other business, the council took the following actions:

•The council voted to allow Fire Chief Tommy Tate to proceed applying for a FEMA SAFER grant that, if awarded, would be used to add personnel to his department. It was unclear what the city’s match would be, if anything, but the grant would still have to be approved by the council if Demopolis was chosen. Librarian Morgan Allen is assisting with the grant application.

•The council decided to make E. Perry Street in front of U.S. Jones Elementary School a one-way street during school drop-off and pick-up times, 7-8:30 a.m. and 2-3:30 p.m. Police Chief Tommie Reese asked for the change in hopes of helping traffic flow during those busy times.

Reese said U.S. Jones principal Leon Clark was looking to find a better way to flow the traffic in that area.

“There have been complaints about the traffic flow in that area before, and we’re trying to work on that,” Reese said. “Perry Street will be a one-way street going East during those hours, and traffic will flow North onto Front Street.”

Reese added that he hopes to have the new system in place for the week of Labor Day.

Clark said pick-up and drop-off areas will stay the same, with third-graders in front of the school, and fourth and fifth graders on Front Street at the side of the school, until the new system is in place. He said he will be communicating with parents as the school year gets started.

•Reese also asked to council to consider adopting changes in how ordinances are enforced for things like dilapidated houses, overgrown lots and abandoned cars.

Grayson said the process of getting action on violations takes too long.

“It is ridiculously slow,” Grayson said. “I say we either make progress or we forget about it.”

Reese said, if adopted, the changes would simplify and speed up the process.

The council was to study the proposal and revisit the issue at a later meeting.

•Ben Sherrod from the Christmas on the River committee asked the council to consider allowing COTR to ask for donations to allow people to park in areas near the river the Saturday of the parades. The council asked him to come back with more details about how that would work. Sherrod also asked the council to consider budgeting for an extension to the COTR warehouse next year.

•Grayson announced that a third downtown revitalization meeting will be held Thursday, Aug. 22 from 5:15-7 p.m. at Rooster Hall. The mayor of Fairhope, Tim Kant, will talk about redevelopment that was done in his city.

•The council tabled filling the open board of adjustment alternate spot until the first meeting of September.

•The council approved a bid from SunSouth for a mower lease for the park and recreation department.

•Grayson congratulated Chief Reese on a successful National Night Out, which was held Tuesday evening at Demopolis Middle School.