Parking lot plans draw ire in Brundidge

Published 11:00 pm Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Plans to add parking spaces to Brundidge Station have drawn opposition from taxpayers.

A group of Brundidge citizens met with Mayor Jimmy Ramage Tuesday to request that the city council reconsider its plans to construct additional paved parking spaces at Brundidge Station, which houses the city’s nutrition center and is available for community functions.

The city council voted on Sept. 20 to spend $65,000 to correct a drainage problem at the location and pave 30 to 39 additional parking spaces. On Monday preparations were being made to begin the paving project, which is counter to plans by community groups to develop the area into a downtown park.

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Ramage said the city discarded plans to develop the area into a park in an effort to remediate a recreation park built with grant funding that was taken out of service about 25 years ago.

“The area was not approved for use as a remediation park,” he said.

With those plans foiled, the city council voted Sept. 20 to repair a drainage problem at Brundidge Station and pave the additional parking spaces.

Dixie Shehane said the decision to add the paved areas at Brundidge Station came as a surprise and “took the air out of our sails.”

“A park there has been in the plans and discussed for several years,” she said. “It was included in the city’s strategic plan that was just completed. Asphalt was not a part of those plans. It would take away from the natural beauty of the park.”

The plans for a downtown park date back to when a group of citizens traveled to Ponchatoula, La., the state’s antique city, to explore the possibility of replicating the downtown project. In addition, to the many antiques shops, Ponchatoula had a large downtown park.

“We came back with the idea for our own antique city,” said Jimmy Hollis. “But, like someone said, not everybody is going to shop for antiques. So, we needed to also have a bench, a shade tree and a cup of coffee available for those who come.”

Margaret Ross said that is the vision of a downtown park for Brundidge.

“We want a park with grass, brick walkways, trees, park benches and swings, maybe a gazebo,” she said. “We want a pretty place downtown for people to enjoy.”

Homer Homann moved to Brundidge about seven years ago because he was attracted to the small town with friendly people.

“One thing that is unique to Brundidge is our naturally fluorinated water,” he said. “That would be something that could be incorporated into our park plans.

Hollis has long suggested the plans for the park include a decorative fountain that flows with the city’s fluorinated water.

Shehane said plans for the downtown park also include an amphitheater with the old lone-standing cotton warehouse wall as a backdrop.

“We want to have a stage where we can have concerts and other outdoor events,” she said. “We want a focal place in our downtown that our citizens and visitors can enjoy.”

Delatha Mobley said that “everyone wants to work for the good of Brundidge.”

“We’ve got to remain motivated,” she said. “We would like for the city to do the drainage and then let us all work together to develop the park.”

Homann asked the mayor if the paving project is a done deal.

Ramage said that he didn’t know.

“The council meets on Tuesday,” he said. “The public is always welcome.”