By: Cady Inabinett
The Montevallo City Council fielded questions about recent flooding issues around the city’s residential areas, developments in the Victory building and hotel projects, and the nearby Brierfield prison project at their meeting on May 10. However, few citizens received clear answers to their questions.
One citizen who addressed the council, Chris Nelson, spoke about ongoing concerns over the construction of a private prison in nearby Brierfield.
Nelson, who has spoken at multiple prior council meetings, including the previous meeting on April 26, and has also been attending neighboring towns’ council meetings to speak against the prison project, discussed his recent experience at a Wilton town council meeting on May 6 where he discussed Montevallo Water Works and Sewer Board’s statement saying they would be willing to provide water and sewage service to the prison—an issue he addressed at the prior Montevallo city council meeting. He said that, “No one in Wilton leadership at present indicated any knowledge of,” negotiations between the MWWSB and the Alabama Department of Corrections. This poses an issue to the town of Wilton because it lies between Montevallo and Brierfield, meaning their infrastructure would have to be used in order for Montevallo to provide water and sewage services to Brierfield.
Nelson asked if council members Sonya Swords and Leila Mitchell, who both hold seats on the MWWSB, were aware of coordination with the town of Wilton on the matter. He went on to ask if there will be, “some sort of reciprocal agreement that will be arranged to support upgrades to the Wilton water infrastructures that are unable of providing services to the prison.”
No member of the council answered any of Nelson’s questions. Council member Kenny Dukes did comment on the issue however, saying that he heard Governor Kay Ivey was planning on calling special legislative session to focus on prison construction and asked if this meant that the construction of prison in Brierfield was still a “possibility.”
Nelson responded by saying, “As far as I know, there’s been no information released from the governor’s office on the status of the Brierfield project, so myself and other folks who are kind of following this closer are assuming that everything is still in place.”
Three other residents addressed the council about flooding. Two of these residents, Stephanie Moore Private and Ron Private, spoke on flooding in the Hidden Forest Subdivision, saying that they have had neighbors suffer “catastrophic loss” due to flooding. The Privates claimed that, “the drainage in the Hidden Forest subdivision was not put in properly when the neighborhood was first developed.”
However, City Clerk Steve Gilbert indicated that there was little the city could do to solve this issue, and suggested that the Hidden Forest homeowner’s association, the developer and an engineer would have to have “active conversation” in order to resolve the issue. Gilbert did say the city would be willing to aid the homeowner’s association in finding contact information for the subdivision’s developer.
Another resident, Patricia Gilmore, addressed the council about flooding issues around her home, but it appeared as though the city has already been in discussion with Gilmore regarding the issue, as Mayor Nix said, “We’ve already been in discussion with this and we’re moving forward with it;” never clarifying what the project was.
Resident C.P. Pierson requested an update on the hotel construction project. The council did not provide any new information about the project, though Gilbert pointing out that the city has been in discussion with a potential developer for the hotel. Instead, Gilbert’s response focused mainly on developments with the Victory building project, as he said he and Nix met with “a potential restauranteur” who was brought to the city by the owner of Interstellar Brewery—which is currently slated to lease space in the Victory building, Shane Kelly, “for the fact of occupying the other space inside the Victory building.”
Gilbert then went on to say that he, “can’t really discuss openly at this point because I don’t have all the details,” but that there are plans for another meeting with the restaurant owner in order to discuss proposals.
The council went on to designate May as Mental Health Month in Montevallo. Nix urged, “the citizens, government agencies, public and private institutions, businesses, and schools in Montevallo to recommit our community to increasing awareness and understanding of mental health, the steps our citizens can take to protect their mental health and the need for appropriate and accessible service for all people with mental health conditions.”
The next City Council meeting will be held Monday, May 24, at 6:00 p.m. The meeting will be livestreamed on the city’s Facebook page. Citizens may also attend the meeting in person at City Hall. Residents can view the most recent meeting on the city’s Facebook page.