Florala makes ‘wish list’

Published 11:59 pm Wednesday, December 24, 2008

One of the benefits of President-elect Barack Obama’s proposed economic stimulus package are funds for infrastructure projects throughout the nation, such as street paving, and Florala officials have their project list ready if and when the opportunity comes.

Obama’s proposed economic plan looks to inject $75 billion of stimulus into the economy by getting money, in the form of tax cuts and direct spending, directly to the people who need it most. Also included is an additional $45 billion of stimulus that can be injected into the economy quickly in the future if the economy continues to deteriorate.

Additionally, $10 billion is included for state and local governments to prevent cuts in services such as health, education and infrastructure. The stimulus would provide provide immediate, temporary funding to state and local governments so that the decline in property values does not cause them to slash critical public services and cut vital infrastructure spending.

“The rumor is that one of the issues in Obama’s stimulus package would be money for paving of city streets, and state officials have asked that we submit a list of our top three projects,” said Mayor Robert Williamson.

At a previous city council meeting, Williamson had asked each councilperson to determine what the worst road in their district was to include on the list; however, even if Obama’s plan doesn’t come to fruition, Williamson said the city would pursue any means necessary to get the road projects finished.

“That was our game plan originally before learning of a possible stimulus package from Obama,” he said. “During the campaign, the biggest concern of our constituents was the condition of our roadways. Our goal then was to pinpoint the worst — even though there are many areas of concern — and work our way through them. We’ll get the five worst and work get those taken care of in the four years of our administration.

“Now we felt like we needed to have those projects on the table, ready to go,” he said.

Areas of concern were the intersection of Seventh Avenue and Juniper Street; Creech Road; Lakeshore Boulevard and Martin Luther King Jr. Street.

“No matter what the outcome of the stimulus package, we’re going to get some roads paved regardless,” Williamson said. “It may not be in its entirety. It may be just a section, but it’s what our citizens want. Residents need to see something some type of progress. Roads are visible and tangible projects people can see being accomplished. Plus it’s what they asked for.”