Sunday, September 7, 2008

Bessemer Updates

This is good news for Bessemer's South side. Two things, actually.

First, even though the Bessemer Neighborhood Association has not had meetings recently, we have still been at work. About two weeks ago, a video of Dartmouth Avenue revealed that truck traffic had increased to dangerous level on this residential street. During a six hour period beginning at 8 one morning, 46 large trucks drive by. Thirty two were large dump trucks, but others included beer delivery trucks, food trucks and gasoline delivery trucks.

Dartmouth Avenue, between 14th Street and Carolina Terrace is 100% residential, well except for the watermelon guy. So we suggested that a truck route which directed trucks coming from the direction of Lipscomb and having them turn onto Carolina Terrace and then to Carolina Avenue, which is primarily commercial, and to 14th Street, would make more sense. Trucks coming from highway 150 or 14th street, would continue to Carolina Avenue and follow this street, then Carolina Terrace, back to Dartmouth Avenue near the convenience stores that some of the trucks might be going to.
On the map, the star indicates the intersection of Dartmouth Avenue and Carolina Terrace.

I am pleased to report that our recommendation was approved by Police Chief Rutledge and Mayor May, and that signs designating the new truck route and "not a truck route" for Dartmouth will be placed in appropriate locations. When the signs are up, we will distribute information along Dartmouth reminding residents that trucks should not be seen on the street.

Letters from the Mayor, the Chief and Sgt. Brown confirm this.

Thank you Bessemer officials for addressing this public safety and quality of life issue.

The other news is that there is renewed interest in recognizing the south side of Bessemer as a historic neighborhood. Several interested persons will be meeting soon to see where we stand on this, and map out a plan to get it done. It's about time, but worth the wait. This will increase property values and increase interest in the historical homes in the area.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Upcoming Meeting

We will hold a meeting on Monday, April 14, 2008 at 7:00 at New Grace Covenant Assembly of God Church on Brairwood Drive in Bessemer. We will be discussing the (antics of the) city council and how speeders and other lawbreakers are affecting our quality of life, and not for the better.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

GUSC Needs to GO

The Bessemer Neighborhood Association met on February 25, 2008 and the Bessemer Water Service and the Bessemer Governmental Utility Services (GUSC) were the primary topic.

We discussed this in detail at the last meeting, but because there were new people in attendance we brought them up to date. District 7 Council Person Earl Cochran explained briefly the history of our water service and the formation of GUSC, and why it was necessary to have the Authority (GUSC) created at the time (in order to secure the financing to build the water plant and to stand as an entity between Covanta and the Water Service).

He also posed a question for GUSC. Where is the $3.7 million in bond money that was secured in 2002 for the purpose of generating resources for future debt service through 2008? That money has disappeared and is part of the reason we find ourselves in the crunch we are now in.

He told us it would take $62 million to buy our GUSC and “start all over again.”

The mayor’s assistant, Camillo Fuller, also spoke, and he explained how GUSC approved faulty changes in the construction of the water service (like changing 36 inch pipe to 30 inch, and reducing the number of inlets from the water source from 3 to 1, changes that decrease the efficiency of our water service and also increase the wear and tear on the infrastructure).

Once again the fact that bonds are issued to “friends” of the mayor (or council) without going through a bid process was brought up. We do not believe that this cronyism and favoritism is in the best interest of the city.

The BNA feels that as ratepayers we do not feel that our interests are being looked after. We feel that GUSC has not shown itself to be accountable (mis-handling $3.7 million, and their current budget). In addition, the changes to the system they authorized during the construction or planning phase show that they are not concerned about the long tern security of our water supply.

The BNA also has a concern that the GUSC board members are not held accountable to the citizens. We do not vote for them and have no control over them. They have the power to sell the system and the citizens, the City Council or the Mayor could not stop them.

The BNA believes that city buy out the management contract and allow the city utility company to manage the operation of the filter plant. GUSC as an entity should be dissolved. In addition, we want the resolution to include a provision stating that the water service would not be sold without a vote of the people.

On March 4, 2008 at 6:00 at City Hall the council will meet to address this issue. Public input is requested. BNA members will be there. We ask that you be there also.

In other business:

BNA is concerned about a former Bessemer official receiving a pension illegally. Documents relating to this were discussed and we will continue to investigate.

Future BNA issues were brought up. The BNA will sponsor a showing of Youth Violence, Inside the Skin, a 92 minute video directed by June Mack of UAB Department of Communication Studies that explores the origins of violence among local (Birmingham) children. Members of BNA have previewed the movie, and feel it will be of benefit in addressing problems plaguing our community. Date and details are still being worked out.

Another interest of BNA is Alabama Constitutional Reform. We are concerned, as many Alabamians are, about the racist origins of the 1901 document and the regressive policies still in place as a result. Joe Openshaw has spoken with Hill Carmichael of Greater Birmingham Ministries who is an advocate of constitutional reform about leading a forum for our community. Date has not been set.

Stay tuned for more details about these events.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Meeting Announcement

On Monday February 25 at 7:00 the Bessemer Neighborhood Association will hold a meeting for city residents who are interested in the Bessemer Water Service, GUSC and the future of our water supply. The meeting is at Food World on 9th Avenue in their community room and all are encouraged to come. Care about your water rates?

Monday, January 28, 2008

GUSC and Bessemer's Water

The Bessemer City Council has proposed giving more authority to the Governmental Services Utilities Corporation, which runs our water plant. An example of a water system that has been given too much authority and no oversight is The Birmingham Water Works. Is this the model that we want to pattern our water authority after?

Come to the Bessemer Nighborhood Association meeting tonight (Monday, January 28, 2008) to hear what the ramifications of such an agreement could be. 7:00, at Broken Vessel Church on Dartmouth Avenue.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Minutes from November 5, 2007

The Bessemer Neighborhood Association met on Monday November 5, 2007 at the home of Elvira Kidd.

Elvira spoke briefly about the situation involving pastor Donald Moulton at Broken Vessel Full Gospel Church. She let us now that there may be a new direction for the church, more to come.

She reinforced that the BNA is separate from Broken Vessel, and that even though we have previously met there, we are not affiliated with the Church in any way.

Elvira discussed the possibility of holding meetings with the city, where the BNA would meet and the mayor or a representative would be there to inform the citizens of their plans and agenda. A twice monthly meeting schedule and an assurance that the meetings would be held in each district at least once a year were considered but it was agreed that probably one BNA meeting a month with just us, and the other with the city officials would be best.

Sam reported a meeting with Forrest Davis who said there was not grant money left. He spoke with Regions and with Buffalo Rock and got a positive response, but both entities want prices and proposed statistics for reducing crime before making a commitment.

Sam sent letter to State Senator E. B. McClain and Attorney General Troy King regarding dog laws. He also found that there is a vicious dog law and that Bessemer is not enforcing the law.

31 Center Street is an area of crime, next to Cynthia’s Barber Shop. Some increase in police presence was reported, but not decrease in crime has been noticed.

Elvira reported that at the upcoming council meeting, noise, smoke and water bond were on the agenda. Also she reported the $72,000 fee requested by Atty. Harris in relation to the water bond. This is an increase from $20,000, but no one knows why. In fact, no one even knows why the original $20,000 is being charged. Also, the proposed water bond is requesting $1.5 million more than they need. What is that money for?

Lodging tax increase. Elvira wants it to be used for retiree’s increase in benefits.

The school system is suffering. Elvira questioned whether our organization should be focused on education as well as our usual business. Elvira proposed we get with the PTSO and city council and all work together to improve the school system.

Our next meeting will be November 26, 2007 at Food World Community Room at 7:00.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Meeting Scheduled

The Bessemer Neighborhood Association will meet Monday October 8, 2007 at 7:00 at Broken Vessel Full Gospel Church. Topics will include Water Bond, Downtown, Violence.