Branch Heights residents attend meeting which was held to discuss condition of roads in their various neighborhoods
The community center at Branch Heights subdivision was filled with residents angry over the ever-increasing deterioration of their roads.
The Eutaw City Council held a called meeting at Branch Heights Monday evening to discuss this problem with the residents.
Present at the speakers table were Councilmembers Joe L. Powell and Hattie Edwards, who share this district when elections are held, Councilmember David Spencer and Eutaw Mayor Raymond Steele. Also at the table was Greene County Commissioner Elzora Fluker, a homeowner in Branch Heights who had asked that the meeting be held.
Fluker opened the meeting by explaining exactly why everyone was there.
She said that the condition of the roads in Branch Heights were an ever-increasing problem for everyone, but most of all for the residents.
This problem became critical when the city annexed the subdivision, which had been owned by the county up until the annexation.
“We’ve been talking about who owns these roads for years. Well, nobody owns the roads! They never have been given over as they should have been,” said Fluker
She explained this situation began in 1970 when some necessary paperwork was never filed.
Then, according to Fluker, a legislative act filed in 1995 mandated that any time a city annexes property from a county, the city owns the property. “According to this 1995 legislation, the county should have given the property to the city, but maintained the roads for one year,” said Fluker. “Now we have to start all over again, The City can’t do it; the County can’t do it.”
Fluker admitted that the roads could not be fixed at this time, but said that they could be repaired. She said that repairs done to date had not lasted because “what they are putting down is for a sandy soil. This is prairie dirt.” She asked that three bodies, the Greene County Commission, the City of Eutaw and the Housing Authority of Greene County, work together to alleviate the problem.
Eutaw Mayor Raymond Steele admitted the truth of Fluker’s statement but said that the act called for the county to have turned the roads over the city in “good, repairable condition,” which he said was not done.
One resident asked why the city did not just fix the roads. Steele replied that the city lacked the authority to do this since the county said they were going to keep the roads.
Steele maintained that the county had never given the roads over to the city.
Fluker’s suggestion was that the first step was to file the necessary paperwork in the Probate Office. “Then the county has to pass a resolution giving the roads to the city. “Branch Heights was never given to either of them,” she said.
One resident said that Steele only annexed Branch Heights in order for Eutaw to meet the qualifications necessary for a town to become a city,
“This community always wanted to be a part of Eutaw,” replied Steele.
When asked what benefits the residents of Branch Heights received from being a part of the city, Steele replied that they got both fire and police protection.
City Councilman Joe L. Powell, a Branch Heights resident, said that both city and county needed to be committed to repairing the roads “We called this meeting to see what we can do to make these roads passable. If the county will commit something, the city will.”
An already complicated situation is worsened by the fact that further damage is being done to the roads on a daily basis by the presence of heavy concrete trucks using them to haul in material for the construction of sidewalks, etc. It was not known whether or not a clause was made a part of the final agreement with the company owning the trucks that any damage done to the roads by the heavy trucks would be repaired.
Various residents told horror stories of damage done to automobiles, of friends and family being reluctant to visit due to the condition of the roads. One lady bluntly said, “I’ll be dead and gone before too long. These roads will have shook me to death!”
County Engineer Arzo Abrams told the entire group that the roads needed to be totally replaced – that piecemeal repair would never be a solution. “Until you can properly fix the roads, you are going to just throw money away! These whole roads need to be torn out!” said Abrams.
While no agreement was reached nor solution found at this meeting, at least the three parties involved in solving the problem – the Housing Authority of Greene County, the City of Eutaw and the Greene County Commissions – were made aware that Branch Heights residents were ready to demand that something be done and that it would take all three governing entities working together to solve the problem.
“The blame game is over,” concluded Fluker. “Something must be done.”
Weather for Eutaw, Ala. Tuesday Wednesday ThursdayPartly Cloudy90/70Chance of a Thunderstorm81/68Chance of a Thunderstorm86/66
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