Residents lobby for Opp depot

Published 12:33 am Tuesday, August 2, 2016

A group of Opp faithful expressed their support for the depot renovation at Monday night’s council meeting.

Led by Neva Pierce, who grew up in Opp and spent the majority of her lifetime there, the group asked the mayor and council to reconsider the depot project.

Last month in a 3-2 decision, the council did not accept the $812,000 bid from Sasser Construction.

Council members T.D. Morgan, Bobby Ray Owens and Mary Brundidge voted no, while Mike Booth and Arlin Davis voted in favor.

“It’s such a historical landmark,” Pierce said. “It’s one of the few left in Opp.”

Pierce said that her family was big in the railroad and her grandfather even died at one of the depots.

City Planner Jason Bryan said that the city would pay for the depot renovation using the $400,000 portion of the grant and $100,000 matching from the city as well as money from the sale of the cable system.

He also said the city would use inkind services where it could.

Bryan told the council that if they went to the depot and looked that they could see that the loading dock doors have substantial cracks in them, and after Monday’s rains there were puddles of water inside the depot.

He said the worst-case scenario for replacing the roof would be $200,000.

“DOT won’t let us do it piece by piece,” he said.

Morgan questioned what happened to the engineering works and architect’s work from the previous administration.

Bryan said there was no engineering work completed and only preliminary architect’s work.

Morgan said he wanted to see the depot restored, but not a the taxpayers’ expense.

Davis said the people of Opp would do like they did with the pool project and contribute.

“If they want to, they need to come up with it,” Owens said.

Bryan said he hasn’t spoken to ALDOT because he’s scared to since the council rejected the bids.

“The money to do something like this is hard to find,” Bryan said.

Pierce asked by the council thought the taxpayers’ didn’t want their money to go toward the project.

Former City Planner Don Childre warned the council that not accepting money would be the kiss of death.

“In my 35-years, I only know of three grants where a municipality refused to take the grant,” he said.

Owens said they aren’t refusing the grant.

Marsha Booth, wife of councilman Booth, said that they needed to get it done no matter what they needed to do.

Brundidge said a lot of people in her district was proud of the nay votes.

The council did not take any action.