Council discusses dilapidated properties, appoints Rowley to board

The Demopolis City Council met Thursday, July 16, at Rooster Hall.

Mayor Mike Grayson moved to amend the minutes from the July 2 meeting involving action on nominations to the hospital board. Grayson clarified that he abstained from the vote while the minutes reflected otherwise. Councilman Bill Meador made a motion to accept the minutes as corrected and the motion seconded by Councilman Nathan Hardy. The motion passed unanimously.

In recent city events, Grayson said that the city hosted the Cal Ripken State Tournament. Vince Deas, who oversaw the event, estimated 1000 visited the city as a result. The Highway 80 Songwriters Festival was held and the event committee estimated that 600 people were in town for the one-night event. A three-family reunion held over the Fourth of July weekend drew another 300 to Demopolis.

Demopolis was recently listed as the 25th best town in the state to raise a family and 18th best town to retire according to an email that Grayson received this past week.

Grayson said he met with Conrad Murdock, Olen Kirby, Dr. Frank Constanza, and Chuck Smith regarding the future use of the old New Era building for the Demopolis High School advanced technology program. They group plans to meet with the council soon regarding the plans for the property.

Grayson, who serves on the Alabama League of Municipalities Executive Committee, met with the group today in Montgomery. In that meeting, Grayson made a motion to send the state’s legislative delegation in Washington a letter requesting that they support the Fair Market Act. Grayson also noted that with the tightening state budget, more stress will likely be placed on already cash-strapped municipal budgets to fund programs cut by the state. With that in mind, plans are underway to begin work on the budget for fiscal year 2015.

Beginning Monday, July 20, superintendent interviews will be taking place at Rooster Hall. Grayson stressed the importance of citizens taking part in those interviews which will occur from 5-7 nightly.

The planning commission met Tuesday and approved a rezoning request for a digital billboard at Parr’s property at the intersection of U.S. Highways 43 and 80. The matter will come before the full council at the Aug. 20 meeting.

In his report, Police Chief Tommie Reese mentioned the military readiness operation coming to town and the need for additional officer presence during the time.

Reporting on current projects, city attorney Bill Poole said that Officer Cody Key is currently working on researching the tax and deed records to determine ownership on a few new dilapidated properties. Poole also said he’s received a number of complaints regarding two properties in town that are overgrown, one on the east side and one on the west. Both properties are in foreclosure or bankruptcy, which further complicates the process of having the lots manicured. Some discussion ensued regarding tax liens placed against properties that the city pays to clear or demolish as the city is having some difficulty collecting from out-of-town property owners.

In old business, the council discussed access from Roman Alley to McNamara Road as there currently is only one access point for Roman Alley. Due to an agreement that was made preventing any side roads being built off of McNamara Road, the council was unsure if the two road could be joined but planned to investigate.

In new business, the council approved resolution 2015-22 for overtime for the police department. Harris Nelson made a motion to approve the request and the motion was seconded by Hardy. The resolution passed unanimously.

A seat vacated on the Parks and Recreation Board by longtime member David Freeman was filled by Cobey Rowley. Rowley was nominated by Nelson, council liaison to the Parks and Recreation Board. A motion was made by Meador and seconded by Nelson to close nominations and suspend rules for voting that would have required the council to wait till the next meeting to vote. After no discussion, the motion passed unanimously. A motion was then made by Nelson and seconded by Meador to appoint Rowley to the board. The appointment passed unanimously.

A public assembly was approved by the council for Kathleen Bambarger for an event on August 22nd at the George Franks Field at the City Landing. Nelson made a motion to approve the assembly and a second came from Hardy. The assembly was approved by a vote of 5-0.

The council closed the meeting by going into executive session at 5:41 p.m. and returned only to adjourn.

The next meeting of the council will be Aug. 6 at 5:15 p.m. at Rooster Hall.