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Airport official updates council on possible upgrades

The Demopolis City Council discussed plans for updating the terminal at the Demopolis Airport as well as clearing a path to begin work on the expansion of an industrial road.

Demopolis Airport Director Jason Pendergrass reported to the council that the airport committee has been looking at the costs to update the terminal and that group has determined it may be better to build a new building rather than making improvements to the current facility.

“The committee has discussed ideas of remodeling and expanding and the consensus is that it would be better to build a new building,” Pendergrass said.

He said price estimates for making those improvements is about $180,000 while building a new facility is estimated at $250,000. “That ($180,000) does not include any problems that we might find once the work begins,” he added.

Currently, the terminal is 1,000 square feet. Based on construction plans available through the state, a new building would be available at 2,000 square feet, which Pendergrass said would be adequate without having too much empty space.

The funding for the terminal would be provided through state grants, that Pendergrass said could be “rolled over.” Taking that approach, he said, would take about three years to acquire the funding necessary for the construction project. The city would be required to match the grant with 5 percent funding, or about $12,500. He said there would be additional costs related to engineering, architect fees, and others.

He said the goal would be to have a building that requires low upkeep and would last well into the future.

The council took no action.

In a separate discussion, the council approved unanimously to enter into an agreement with the Alabama Department of Transportation that moves forward the widening of Airport Industrial Park Road.

That project will upgrade the road and widen to two northbound lanes a road leading into WestRock and the new Two Rivers Lumber mill. The project will cover the road from a railroad track there past the Two Rivers facility.

The total cost of the project is estimated at $506,400 with the city responsible for about $106,900.

Other items discussed at the meeting included:

• Phillip Spence addressed the council regarding the future of the Confederate Memorial statue that was damaged last summer.

Spence said he spoke with local monument company Doric South, which led him to River Edge Granite of Atlanta that he said could duplicate the soldier that sat atop the monument. He said after taking measurements the cost to repair the statue to its original state would be $105,000, which would include installation. He added that between the Daughters of the Confederacy’s offer to pay $2,500, that would leave the city to pay only $2,500 and that others would be willing to donate to relieve the city of that expense as well.

“Please consider this,” Spence said to the council. “It would right a wrong. The statue has been there for 110 year and it needs to be corrected. I love this city, love the people, and I love the statue and we need to do right by it.”

The question was posed by resident Evelyn James as to whether placing a new statue atop the monument would be covered by the insurance company.

“That’s one of the answers we’ve been looking for from the insurance company because they are the ones who will be paying for it,” said Councilman Charles Jones, who is leading a committee appointed to look into the matter. Jones said he is serving as a non-voting member of that committee. The council will receive that committee’s recommendation, but ultimately will decide on how to proceed through a vote of the council members.

• Building Department Head Julius Rembert reported that new procedures are now in place for reporting and dealing with dilapidated housing. He said there are currently five active cases and that the city attorney will be sending letters to those property owners.

• The council approved a measure allowing for the city park in downtown to be an entertainment zone for this summer’s Songwriters’ Festival scheduled for July 1.

• The council approved to repost bids for the Rosenbush Building warehouse, which does not include the current building that is home to the Marengo County History and Archive Museum. The reposted bid will include a change that gives a new property owner a longer period of time to do needed repairs, which includes the roof.

“The purpose of this is to save a building of historic value,” said Mayor John Laney. “Our options are to have somebody purchase it or we will have to spend the money to fix it.”

• Approved the re-appointment of Conrad Murdoch to the Demopolis City Schools Board of Education. Murdoch currently serves as chairman of that board.

• Approved a budget adjustment of $8,214 related to the deployment of a city employee.