After outlining some of the initiatives he would like to see in the area, including after-school programs, dumping fines and community clean-up days, District 2 City Councilman Shannon Darby opened the floor for questions.
Residents took the opportunity to voice concerns about poor road conditions, frequent littering and trash pick-up issues that pervade the district, which extends east of Main Avenue. Mayor Doug Murphree assured citizens he would discuss their issues with Veolia Environmental Services and added that anyone who needs a replacement garbage can should call the Mayor’s Office at 256-401-2424.
Darby said it will take the entire community getting involved and talking with city leaders about these types of issues to make a difference.
“If we don’t care about our community, then no one else will,” he said. “If you see somebody throwing trash out down the street, don’t say, ‘Well, at least it’s not in front of my house.’ It takes us all to look great.”
He continued, “There are 2,500 people in this district and 40 here today. If we were serving alcohol, throwing a party or giving you a free ticket somewhere, this whole place would be full. You need to come let your voice be heard, because somebody cares.”
Citizen Tony Gerrins, who said nothing has been done about a bad drainage ditch near his home despite his complaints, said it will take more than talking to accomplish good things in the district.
“If you have complaints in other communities, and it’s a nicer community, it gets done right then,” Gerrins said. “Compared to some of the other communities, it might not look nice here, but we want it to be nice, and our voice is not being heard. I like some of the things you (Darby) want to do, but saying and doing is two different things. We need to move on it and let people know.”
As for the dilapidated East Highland and Mountain View school buildings in the district, Darby said he welcomes any input from community members about what they would like to see done, though no citizens directly addressed the topic Wednesday. Darby said there are three current options for the East Highland School: demolish the building, which has been heavily vandalized since it closed about 10 years ago; lease it to the nonprofit group I Can Achieve that would like to implement several programs out of the building if it can attain the roughly $6 million in grants needed to repair it; or demolish the building and create a green space with a memorial to East Highland.
He added that Mountain View will soon be in the same shape as East Highland if nothing is done to care for it.
“It’s not that the city came in and vandalized it,” Darby said. “This is in our community; it’s us. It’s us who don’t take care of what we have in our district. If we don’t care, how can we expect somebody else to care?”
He said the issue could be further discussed at a future district meeting, which he plans to hold about once a month. Darby also encouraged residents to come to City Council meetings, held the first Wednesday and third Tuesday of every month. The next council meeting is Feb. 6 at 9 a.m.
Contact Emily Adams at firstname.lastname@example.org.