Starting at 4:30pm on Monday, this special session was called in order that – if a yes answer was given by the council – a deadline for submitting an application for grant money could be met by Bibb Medical and Joseph Marchant, its CEO.
Marchant found out recently through Dennis Stripling that there is a new grant associated with last year’s tax increase, called Rebuild Alabama. This grant would pay for infrastructure repairs, and must have a government “sponsor” it, and have a city or county official sign off on the application. With a cap of $250,000 to be given out to each grant each year, it seems intended for smaller communities.
BMC has already paid for and obtained engineering drawings of what the application requests, namely repairs of city streets around the BMC campus between Birmingham Road and Walnut Street, plus several in between. Because the entirety of what they would like to be done would cost over $700,000, the project is planned as phases. Only the grant money would be used to complete the project, with no cash input or match from the city. The heathcare authority approved up to $50,000 to pay for engineering and other expenses associated with preparing the grant application, according to Marchant.
Marchant also pointed out how many businesses and government offices and functions are also within the grid he is proposing to take advantage of the grant. Phase One would include Library Street and Alexander as the most in need of resurfacing, but almost all streets between Library and Birmingham Road, from Walnut Street to the hospital, would eventually be included.
The council were all in agreement that a no cost to the city grant to fix these streets would only be a benefit, and voted to authorize Mayor Morton to sign his approval onto the grant application. Marchant left with a signed paper that he needed for the process.
To Be a Street, or Not To Be a Street?
Councilman Don Mack brought to the council the issue that he has attempted “multiple times over the years,” according to Mayor Terry Morton. That being, he would like to give the street that is on his property – a spur that extends Aldine Street about 100 yards – over to the City of Centreville.
The City taking ownership of the street would mean taking over maintenance, and possibly paving it eventually. Mack insisted that at this point he wasn’t asking for any money, just that it become city property and as such facilitate “future development” in that area. There seemed to be some confusion as to whether the street was in fact already city property or not. The Mayor said that an answer should be brought instead of putting off Councilman Mack any longer.
The property itself was already annexed into city limits several years ago, and City Attorney Mitch Kemmer stated that while it was clear the street was encompassed by the city, it was not clear from what he had so far found as to whether the street was actually already city property.
Some council members were resistant to the idea, because it would eventually mean paying for upkeep on a new property. Mack said that if this was a business instead of an individual, they would have already done this, and he questioned if they were resistant to the idea because it was him requesting it. He said there was already a city owned street light, fire hydrant, and sewage running under it, and is confused as to the problem they seem to have with taking ownership of the road. The discussion remained civil, if a bit tense.
The ultimate result: the vote to accept it as city property was tabled until Kemmer could discover if it was already city property, or if they actually needed to vote to take it over, would be tabled two meetings, until December 17.