Hawkins Williams pk lot

A vote by the Elba City Council during Monday night’s meeting moves a proposed paving project for Hawkins-Williams Park one step closer to reality. Much of the recreation park’s parking lot and entrance road are in shambles and show that attention to paving has become a must for the outdoor recreation park.

Hawkins-Williams Park, the recreation area that houses baseball/softball fields, a playground, and archery range for the City of Elba, got one step closer Monday night, July 22, to better access into the park and parking. The Elba City Council voted unanimously to enter into a contract with Southern Engineering Solutions of Andalusia, Ala. to allow that company to solicit bids and quotes for the paving of the Hawkins-Williams entrance and parking lot. The approved contract with Southern Engineering included $18,000 for engineering design services on this project as well as another $10,000 for other consultation expenses associated with the project as it continues. All council members were present with the exception of District One councilperson Rolanda Jones. After several discussions on the matter for the past few months, the council also voted Monday night to move forward with fulfilling the city’s need of a new garbage truck. Mayor Mickey Murdock said the city had most recently been in discussions with the City of Opp regarding its trucks, and Opp had recommended a consultant to look at Elba’s actual needs for the new truck to best suit its purposes and give the city its best option for use as long as possible. After looking into suggestions made by the consultant, Murdock said the city had found a garbage truck that could be purchased on the national bid list from the HGAC cooperative purchasing program for right at $200,000. He said this truck would have a body built with better quality steel than previous trucks the city has owned, according to the specifications of the truck. Murdock said garbage trucks had been lasting approximately five years for the city before needing to be replaced, and he hoped this new truck with the sturdier build would last even longer. Council members approved a motion to allow the mayor to enter into an agreement with HGAC to purchase a garbage truck not to exceed $200,340. The mayor said it would take approximately 90 days before the truck would be ready, and at that time, the council would be asked to approve a funding agreement for the purchase. Recent workshop discussions also led the council to make a decision Monday evening on directional/wayfinding signage to be placed along gateways to the city. The mayor said the idea behind this signage would be to help people traveling through and to Elba to be able to find attractions, city/county offices, restaurants, etc. in the Elba. Council member Gappa Wise said he felt Elba, being the size it is, might be better served if the council would use the money it was proposing to spend on the signs to focus on increasing Internet visibility on such travel sites as TripAdvisor and Yelp. Also, he said he thought utilizing billboards encouraging travel to Elba might better benefit the city as well. Murdock said Wise made a valid point, and that he thought looking in to such actions might be something the Chamber of Commerce could do possibly. “I just don’t see getting that much benefit from these [directional] signs,” Wise said. Council member Jane Brunson said she felt at least some signage was needed. Council member A R Williams made a motion with a second from Brunson to get a quote on Phase I and Phase II in the signage designs not to exceed $15,000. This motion passed 4-1 with Williams, Brunson, council member Tom Maddox, and Mayor Murdock voting in favor. Wise voted no on this motion. Another matter getting a move forward nod from the council during Monday night’s meeting was a downtown lights project, at least to the point of testing the idea to be sure it is something the city wants to do to make the downtown area more attractive. The idea for this project is to have strands of lights flowing above the streets around the courthouse square from the courthouse side of the road to the merchant side in a ‘V’ pattern. The mayor said it was estimated that one set of the lights to cover on side of the courthouse square would cost approximately $2,700. To get the four sets to cover all sides of the square, the approximate cost would be $10,800. He added that it had also been discussed to include the next block past the square to the area of the Methodist Church, and that would increase the overall cost to approximately $16,000 for all. Brunson made a motion with a second from Maddox to initially purchase one set [enough to cover one side of the square] for $2,700, and for the idea to be evaluated further after getting those lights up to be sure it is something that all want to move forward with from that point. This motion passed unanimously. In looking at the city’s financials Monday night, the mayor said he was well pleased with the report at this point in the fiscal year. “Our revenues continue to do well this year,” Murdock said. “A very positive number this report reflects is a 6 percent increase in sales tax revenue. That is a very optimistic number for us.” The Elba City Council will next meet Monday, Aug. 12, at 5:30 p.m., at Elba City Hall.

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