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Resident concerns lead to sidewalk project changes

A plan involving new sidewalks along streets in the area of Westside Elementary School will be changed after residents in the area voiced concerns during a Demopolis City Council meeting Thursday.

Two residents, one who lives on Mauvilla Drive and the other on Indian Hill Road, each said the petitioned other residents along their streets with almost unanimous agreement against placing sidewalks along those streets.

“We do not feel the sidewalks will enhance our property values … we feel it would have negative impact,” said Gary Brown who lives on Mauvilla Drive.

Brown added, that for various reasons, there are very few students who walk along those streets to get to WES.  “Parents will usually walk with their children to the school or park along the curb. I don’t think it achieves the purpose (of the grant),” he said.

Jack Cooley of Indian Hill Road said he also polled the residents on his street and said every resident he spoke to was against the project as currently planned, stating he could not contact five residents of the street.

“(The residents) don’t want the disruption of their yard,” Cooley said. “A sidwalk project is worthwhile, but sometimes you need to listen to what property owners have to say and we ask that you follow the will of the people.”

Following the speakers, Councilman Cleveland Cole made a motion to change the plan from placing sidewalks within the neighborhoods, instead using the funds for a sidewalk on WES property. Any funds remaining would be used for additional sidewalks in the area of U.S. Jones Elementary School. The motion was approved unanimously.

Other items discussed by the council included the following:

• Building Superintendent Julius Rembert reported that a dilapidated properties demolition is completed at 600 Fourth Ave. He also requested, and was approved, to move forward with a demolition at 409 N. Walnut Ave. The low bid for the project is $20,000 submitted by the city’s public works department.

“This house is much larger than the others we’ve done, plus it is on a busy street,” Rembert said when asked about the cost.

The home has been burned and Rembert said many citizens have complained about it, especially considering its location on the main road coming into the north side of Demopolis from on Hwy. 43.

• Councilman Charles Jones reported that work has begun to place rip-rap along a section of ditch along Decatur Street.

• Approved to enter into a two-year lease for a street sweeper at $3,051 per month with an option to purchase at $124,700 at the end of the term.

• Approved the purchase of a self-serve fuel terminal at the airport. Jason Pendergrass reported that the current terminal will no longer be supported for repairs and maintenance and that it is simply a matter of time before it has to be replaced. Pendergrass said by replacing now, the city would be eligible for a $3,500 credit on trade-in. With re-allocating capital budget funds, the airport requested $4,400 for the purchase, which was approved by the council.

• The council approved a $2,000 donation to the Liberty Learning Foundation to provide civics curriculum at WES and USJ.

• Demopolis High School Band Director Demetrius Scott, along with student leaders of the River City Blue band, approached the council asking for sponsorship of the program’s goal of bringing back the Bands on the River Festival, which would bring bands from across the area to Demopolis to be judged. The students were dressed in new uniforms that will be featured this marching season.

The council approved providing $2,000 to support the festival.

• Public Safety Director Tommie Reese introduced a new police officer, Julian Little, who recently completed police academy.

• Renee Worlds spoke to the council, thanking them and other city employees for their efforts. Worlds is moving after having lived here for many years.

The next council meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 6, 5:15 p.m., at Rooster Hall.

(This article originally appeared in the Saturday, August 18 issue of the Demopolis Times.)