E911 becomes center of conflict

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 13, 2003

The Enhanced 911 (E911) District Board of Commissioners has voted to move their communications center &045;&045; but will they?

On March 31, the E911 District Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to move the center from its current location at 12 Franklin St. to 311 Dallas Ave. At the Selma City Council’s Thursday work session, though, Mayor James Perkins Jr. opposed the board’s decision.

Richard Bean, a member of the E911 District Board of Commissioners, said the move had been contemplated for months. It began in summer 2002 when Steve Tidwell, the board’s chairman, Bean, Sheriff Harris Huffman and Selma Police Chief Robert Green were called to Perkins’ office and told the current site was no longer safe. According to Bean, Perkins and the city’s engineer told the group the center could be stabilized for a maximum of two years for about $50,000.

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However, at a March 12 called meeting of the 911 Board, Bean said Perkins indicated the center’s current location could be permanently fixed and proposed more funds be used to stabilize the center’s current location.

At this point, though, Bean said the costs for staying at the 12 Franklin St. location were greater than moving to the 311 Dallas Ave. building.

Perkins said initial cost projections were made on preliminary inspections of the center’s current location leading to the first assessment the building would only last two years.

Bean said the building has already had new plumbing installed and the electrical system rewired.

The new assessment was with this new information was brought to the board March 12.

Perkins said he wasn’t opposed to relocation, but didn’t think it make sense to move it to a residential area within an historic district.

Bean said the Dallas Avenue location is better than the current one because it’s further away from the police station, which he said poses a risk to homeland security.

The board would also have more control over entering the new location’s perimeter, limiting traffic around the address and control of parking.

Thursday night Councilwoman Jean Martin said she was upset because the board hadn’t contacted the historical commission about the move. The center will have to install outside equipment to the building which could violate historical commission rules.

Bean said the historical commission hadn’t been contacted because the board doesn’t own the Dallas Avenue building yet. He also pointed out that there were four businesses in the area.

Thursday night both Perkins and Selma City Council President George Evans questioned how people were appointed to the E911 board, concluding that Selma lacks input on the commission.

Bean, though, pointed to two members of the board &045;&045; Jim Lumpkin and Charles Moss &045;&045; both of whom live in Selma.

Appointments are made to the board by the County Commission, which was given that power by Alabama state law.