Several projects lined up for Demopolis in 2024

Published 4:05 pm Wednesday, January 3, 2024

With a new year comes new projects and goals, and the City of Demopolis has at least twelve projects slated for 2024.

Demopolis Mayor Woody Collins is going into 2024 with a lot of optimism for the city. From his perspective, everything went well in 2023 from a project standpoint, which gives him a positive outlook going into the new year.

One of the biggest projects completed in 2023 was the City Landing project that finally came to fruition in 2022. The project was one of the most expensive things the city has done as the project cost an astounding $3.4 million to complete.

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“That project has been around for a long time. It was something that needed to be done for thirty years. I’m so excited that we got it done,” Collins said. “We went from being able to host fifty and sixty boat tournaments, to one that was one hundred and eighty boats. That’s a lot of people in Demopolis, but that was a huge thing that was actually completed.”

Collins said he is also looking forward to seeing how the Main Street program does in 2024. Main Street came to Demopolis in 2022, and has been working to revitalize the downtown area by renovating buildings and bringing to new events such as Bark in the Park.

“I’m excited to see what’s going on with Main Street. This Main Street program has been wonderful. I can’t wait to see what comes out of some of these contractors that are down here working these lots,” said Collins.

Looking at 2024, one of the biggest and most important projects in getting the Health Science High School placed in Demopolis. In September 2023, a $500,000 feasibility study was approved by the Legislative Contract Review Committee to be conducted in Demopolis to determine if the city was the best location for the school. The study began in October and ended in December, but the results of the study will not be turned over to the state until at least the second week of January.

“We probably won’t be privy to the information until February. We’re going to find out what the feasibility study’s findings were and see what their thoughts were on Demopolis,” said Collins.

Collins said his understanding is that the Speaker of the House, the Lieutenant Governor, the Governor, and the Senate Pro Tem will get to review the study around the second or third week of January. They will discuss it, and will them turn it over to the Senate and House of Representatives.

So we’re all holding our breath and about to bust a gut waiting to see what it says, and if they were complimentary of Demopolis, or whether they thought somewhere else would be a better fit. We just have to wait to see,” said Collins.

The next project is redoing the actual Main Street in downtown Demopolis. The street has needed repairs for quite a while, and the city finally has the means to tackle it. Collins said there has been a drainage issue there for many years, and nothing has alleviated the problem. When heavy rains come, the road floods and has to be closed until it is safe for vehicles to pass through.

“We finally were awarded a grant to completely tear that area out and redo the drainage. It’s been a total nightmare,” said Collins. “We’ve come up with our own plan to do the project in small pieces with local contractors. “We’re probably forty to fifty percent complete for ten percent the money that it would have cost to go through the typical government process.”

Other projects slated for 2024 is fixing a drainage issue behind CVS on Hwy. 80. The problem stems from a swamp area behind Demopolis High School were debris and beaver dams have plagued the area and drainage for several years.

The Civic Center on N. Commissioners Ave is expected to have phase one of its renovations begin this year. The Civic Center has been used as a storm shelter for many years, but is not legally a storm shelter because it is not FEMA rated. The city received a $2.7 million grant near the end of 2023 that will help begin renovations on the basement of the Civic Center.

“We call it a storm shelter, but it’s not. That’s a terrible term to use. It’s a safe house,” said Collins. “Until we get it rated to a FEMA rated storm shelter, it’s not a legal storm shelter. This $2.7 million is supposed to help us do that and I can’t wait to get started on that.”  

Collins said that it might be March or April before work can begin on the Civic Center.

The remaining projects are for additional sidewalks around downtown Demopolis, and in the Rainbow Circle neighborhood on E. Pettus St. Others are sewage and drainage issues around the city that need to be seen to and corrected.

Collins said that if the city can accomplish just half of its list of projects he would be “one happy fella.”

“I would smile all day long. The one thing I have learned about government, is the biggest trait is you have to have to deal with the government is patience. I get very impatient. I like to see things happen and get things done,” said Collins. “When you say let’s do it, let’s get the shovels and get started. But, you can’t do that with the government. If we can get half of the projects we’ve got going completed in 2024, it would be as successful a year this community has ever had.”