Leaders answer community questions
By By Thomas Tingle
Record Managing Editor
When are the lights at Dublin Park supposed to be turned off at night?
What is the Madison County Commission's opinion on home rule?
When will a new stadium be built in Madison?
City, county and state leaders answered a field of questions from the Madison business community during the annual Madison Chamber of Commerce Partners In Progress luncheon held at Holiday Inn.
The panel included Madison Mayor Jan Wells, State Sen. Tom Butler, Madison County Commissioners Faye Dyer and Dale Strong, Madison City Councilman Ray Stubblefield, Madison Community Development Department Director Bob Atallo, Madison City Schools Superintendent Dr. Henry Clark, Whitey Bresette, director of the Madison Water and Wastewater Department, and Madison Building Inspector Randy Goode.
Prior to the question and answer session, members of the business community were provided a piece of paper and pencil to write down his or her question to any one of the panel members. The questions ranged in topic from a proposed hospital in Madison to the redevelopment of downtown Madison.
Here are a few questions and answers presented to the panel at the luncheon.
* When are the lights at Dublin Park supposed to be turned off?
Mayor Wells said once the park is closed at 9 p.m., all lights are supposed to be turned off.
* When will Madison get an interchange at I-565 and County Line Road?
Sen. Butler said getting the funding to build the interchange should not be a problem and an interchange at I-565 and County Line Road will be a reality. Mayor Wells said the project would cost less than $1 million.
* What is the Madison County Commission's opinion of home rule?
Commissioner Strong and Commissioner Dyer said they are both in favor of home rule. Strong said it is critical for the county commission or any local governing body to have the opportunity to make decisions without having to go to the legislature for answers. Dyer said she would like to see home rule put into affect soon so that needs are met as soon as they are brought to their attention rather than waiting to get answers when the legislature meets.
* A 120-bed hospital is being planned in Madison. What is your opinion of this?
Mayor Wells said Crestwood Medical Center in Huntsville is proposing to build a full-service hospital in Madison. She said she has been in contact with Crestwood officials for the past 18 months and they have been pro-active in getting a hospital built now. Commissioner Strong said funding is in place to get it built and having a hospital here in Madison will save lives.
* Madison's new sewer plant is scheduled to open in mid September of October. Has a rate increase been put into affect?
Bresette said a 20 percent rate increase was put into affect last year at five percent over the next four years to offset the cost of the city coming off the services of Huntsville Utilities. Madison residents have already seen a rate increase which started last October.
* What's the next step toward a new stadium coming to Madison?
Superintendent Clark said the Spencer property located behind the Spencer Square shopping center is the best site for a multi-use stadium, central office and teacher resource center. Clark said the school board is waiting for zoning changes to before construction can begin – which could be as early as next year.
* What is being done about the redevelopment of downtown Madison?
Auburn University officials have presented a master plan to the Madison City Council for the redevelopment of downtown Madison. The plan shows the best use of the existing properties, land and homes located in downtown. Mayor Wells said the city is actively pursuing the redevelopment of downtown Madison.
* The mayor announced that a surgery center would be built in Madison. Property is being looked at off the Hughes Road extension near Madison Boulevard. New police officers will be added to the Madison Police Department force as budget allows. Lodging taxes in the city of Madison go to the general fund. AYSO schedules the use of the Dublin Park fields. The mayor said time is needed between usage for field recovery and to keep them properly maintained. Sen. Butler said he will check into mowing U.S. Highway 72 and I-565 may get mowed again before the winter season. Some flagpoles along the Hughes Road extension will be moved, trees relocated and torn flags replaced.