Legal action in place for federal injunction

Published 10:46 pm Monday, September 24, 2012

Although the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers agreed and met with the stakeholders involved in the change in the locks level of service on the Alabama River last week, some city officials are still unsatisfied.

Wilcox County Commissioner Mark Curl said he has instructed the county attorney to draw up a federal injunction to the Corps’ plan.

“It’s been prepared and is ready to file,” Curl said. “It can’t be filed until [the Corps] takes some sort of action on Oct. 7.”

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Curl said the purpose of the injunction is, “to delay any closing of the locks until [the Corps] meet or follow proper procedure.”

Proper procedure he said, would include some sort of public notice advertising public meetings. Curl did not consider the meeting in Monroeville last Wednesday as a legitimate public meeting, because it was not advertised.

“That’s our river,” Curl said. “We want to delay [the Corps’ plan] until we can do a formal economic impact study on the region. We want to be able to show exactly what this is going to cost the whole river corridor, (in respect to tourism and economic development).”

Curl added that although he does not know what type of impact the Corps’ plan will have on the communities along the river, he knows it will be a negative one.

“That’s why we want to delay it,” he said.

Dallas County is considering filing an injunction as well.

Dallas County Probate Judge Kim Ballard said, “[Dallas County] has not entered into that arrangement with Wilcox County yet, but we’re considering it.”

Ballard suggested that an injunction, “would only delay the inevitable. I’d like to work out a solution that all parties could live with.”

At this point Ballard and Dallas County are still unsure “if the pursuit of an injunction is the proper way to go,” he said. “Based on the reply that Jerry Sailors, president of the Coosa-Alabama River Improvement Association, gets with his correspondence with the Corps (regarding the revisions they made to the plan), I think we’ll wait and see what that is, and then we’ll make our decision.”

Anthony Perkins, U.S. Corps of Engineers chief of lock operations and repairs said the Corps submitted a revised plan on Sept. 21, two days after the meeting with the stakeholders in Monroeville.

“We’re trying to be accommodating, but we don’t know at this point (what will be accepted) until we hear back on it,” Perkins said. “As far as any details on [the revised plan], we don’t have any. Anything that changed from our meeting last week and the input we got … we won’t what we’re going to be allowed to do. We won’t know until around Oct. 7.”