City ready to tackle paving projects

The Demopolis City Council will begin the process of tackling various street paving projects. The council voted Thursday to engage engineers in view of collecting bids for a list of at least a dozen city streets in need of paving.

“We have a list of at least 12 to 15 streets. We will start giving some attention to our paving problems,” Councilman Bill Meador said.

While the proverbial nuts and bolts of the plan are not yet in place, Councilman Charles Jones indicated that some of the funding for the project would likely touch the city reserves.

“Some of the money will come from reserves but we do have a plan to put it back in reserves,” Jones said.

The council will now collect and review bids on the project, a process that carries with it a certain degree of tediousness for which Jones expressed his impatience.

This is going to drag out way too long,” Jones offered. “I want to see it happen this calendar year.”

The council also voted to accept a proposed plan from Demopolis Police Department Chief Tommie Reese designed to help alleviate traffic congestion around U.S. Jones Elementary School during drop-off and pickup times.

“We want to make it a one way coming east on East Perry street from 7 a.m. until about 8:30 and then in the afternoon from 2:30 until about 3:30, the same thing. We’re going to do a barricade there on East Jackson Street and make it a one way coming out,” Reese explained.

Under the new plan, cars will be prevented from going east on Jackson Street beyond the Front Street intersection during pickup and drop-off hours. Conversely, vehicles will also not be allowed to travel west on Perry Street exiting the school during pickup and drop off hours.

The DPD also submitted a proposal that would call for the restructuring of the city’s ordinance enforcement policy.

“I’ve had Paul Johnson to check around the state to see what they are doing with overgrown lots and so forth. He came up with one from Athens that was nice and we tweaked it to fit the City of Demopolis,” Reese told the council.

The second phase of the changes would see the police department granted authority to enforce current ordinances.

“On a lot of our ordinances that we currently have, it has the building official listed for parked cars, overgrown lots and so forth. I am asking if we can amend the ordinances to allow the officers to take care of it,” Reese said.

The council will review both parts of the proposal before discussing it at its next meeting.

Christmas on the River Chairman Ben Sherrod approached the council about approving a plan to allow for the charging of parking in designated areas downtown during the annual event.

“You can’t go anywhere that you don’t pay for parking and I’ve never understood why we in Demopolis, for 42 years, have not charged for parking,” Sherrod said. “The precedent has already been set because we’re already charging for RVs.”

As part of the proposal, which has yet to be put together, the COTR committee would rely on an entity such as the Demopolis High School football team to man the parking areas and collect the contributed funds.

“(Demopolis High football coach Tom Causey) is in agreement that, if we can get this, he would take the football team and man the gates and that sort of thing if he can get a percentage of it for the football team,” Sherrod told the council.

“I have a concern that here we are 40 years into it and I have a concern that it will hurt the event,” Demopolis Mayor Mike Grayson cautioned.

The council voted to allow Sherrod and the COTR committee to put together such a plan and submit it to the council for approval.

The council also voted to allow Demopolis Fire and Rescue Department Chief Tommy Tate to apply for a Safer Grant. While the details of the grant were not immediately available, the funding is designed to add personnel to the department.

“What I’m asking is are we hiring a new person that we’re going to be saddled with at the end of the grant,” Jones stated.

“My understanding is that it is very similar to the COPS grant,” Grayson said, citing a grant application from the DPD the council approved earlier this year.

The council voted to accept a bid from Sunsouth Tractor to supply the Parks and Recreation department with two new lawnmowers. The city’s governing body also agreed to table a discussion about a vacancy on the Board of Adjustments.

Grayson reminded the council and the gallery of the downtown revitalization meeting set for Thursday, Aug. 22 at 5:15 p.m. Fairhope Mayor Tim Kant is set to be the guest speaker.