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Proposed ordinance would give city a demolition law with 'teeth'

By By Sherry Digmon
Advance Staff Writer
Finally, the Atmore City Council may soon have a law giving it the authority to demolish substandard buildings and structures.
The Legislature has passed a law allowing Class 7 cities to be considered as any other cities in the state. Atmore falls in this class and has, until now, not had the authority to demolish substandard buildings.
The council heard the first reading of Ordinance 101-00 at Monday night's meeting.
The ordinance will allow the city to address "buildings which are dilapidated, unsafe, dangerous, unsanitary and used for illegal purposes and are a menace to the health, safety and welfare of the people of this City, and which are a public nuisance."
The ordinance allows reasonable time for notification, hearings and appeals.
The second reading of the ordinance will be at the next council meeting, and the council will vote on the ordinance at the meeting following that.
In other business, the council:
* set the Saturday before Fat Tuesday each year as Ladies of Essence Day in Atmore. The action came as the result of a request by Bonnie Bartel Latino.
At her request, Councilman John Garrard read a letter asking that the council take prompt action to honor the Ladies of Essence, the organization that brought the first Mardi Gras ball to Atmore last month and the second Mardi Gras parade a couple of weeks ago.
Latino pointed out that the Ladies of Essence may be perceived as a social club, but is actually very much a service organization.
A proclamation or resolution will be presented at the next meeting.
n heard from Owens that a surplus 1977 Chevrolet van from the fire department will be rebid.
At the last meeting, the council had a duplicate bid, but was not sure how to award the bid.
* Owens expressed the council's condolences to the family of Willie Mae McGlasker who passed away March 11. Mrs. McGlasker, 95, was a well-known civic leader and founder of the NAACP in Atmore.
* met in executive session from 6:25 until 6:43. No action was discussed when the public meeting resumed.
* heard from A.C. Adams, Escambia Glass, who thanked the council for the four-way stop sign at the corner of Ridgeley and Presley streets.
* heard an inquiry from Watkins on the status of work being done at the city pool in Houston Avery Park.
According to Owens and Street and Sanitation Department Manager Don Whatley, this project has turned into a much larger job than anticipated.
* Major water system leaks have caused major problems in the dirt around the pool, all of which has had to be excavated.
Owens said the city will delay starting the pool renovation at Tom Byrne Park until next year. Similar problems at that pool could mean it would not be ready for swimming season if work started now.
Councilman David McKinley said most municipalities fill pools in rather than go to this expense. His two daughters visit the pool at Tom Byrne Park often, he said.
Councilman John Watkins agreed the money going into pool renovation is worthwhile.
* heard from a resident about water standing at a house on Martin Luther King Avenue.
This is a problem area that has been discussed at the council table before.
The Utilities Board has determined it is not a sewage leak. The Sanitation Department has tried to drain the water.
Watkins suggested just digging a hole in the ground to see where the water's coming from.
* heard an inquiry from an area resident about lighting in Tom Byrne Park.
Owens said a representative from Alabama Power Company has reviewed the lighting situation.
Owens said there was also some concern about a dark area on the walking trail at Houston Avery Park.
* talked about the designation of a portion of Montgomery Street as a one-way street at Escambia County High School. This affects only the part of Montgomery Street from the Escambia County High School parking lot to McRae Street.
Councilman David McKinley asked if that designation could be in effect for certain hours.
Atmore Police Chief Danny McKinley said that would not be a problem for his department.
No action was taken.
* McKinley expressed his appreciation that precautions are being taken on the sidewalk at Jeanette Smith's house on the corner of Carney and Craig streets. At the last meeting, McKinley brought it to the council's attention that the sidewalk was in need of repair.
* heard from Judy Pylate regarding a gas-out April 7, 8 and 9. This is a grassroots movement across the country asking people not to buy gas to protest the current, and rising, high gas prices.
n heard an inquiry from Watkins on the status of designating school zones in Atmore.
At the last meeting, Darren K. Smith, Ed.D., administrator of Temple Christian Academy, asked that a school zone be designated at Kiddie Kollege Kindergarten and Temple Christian Academy. The school is located at Atmore Baptist Temple on South Main Street.
There was some discussion on how to proceed.
Owens said he had checked with the district engineer in Evergreen. The city submitted the letter and the state will review.
The request also included the new Escambia County Middle School on Highway 21 and Atmore Christian School off Highway 31.
* Councilman Curtis Harris asked about the status of repairs to the railroad crossings on Second Avenue and Main Street.
Owens said he has contacted the railroad.
In addition to the routine items, there were three items of business on the agenda – Scott Hutchinson with McCrory and Williams, recognition of the Ladies of Essence, and Ordinance 101-00.
Councilman Jerry Gehman was not at the meeting.